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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Anatomy & Dissection Club Concludes Year with Mink Dissection

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  • While her partner cuts the mink using scissors, Joan Amalraj ’27 helps by holding back flaps of skin. Most club members worked in pairs to dissect their specimens.

  • Surrounded by fellow club members, Anatomy & Dissection Club Vice President Nicole Wang ’24 holds up a mink intestine. Club members removed important organs from the mink’s anatomical systems, including the intestines, stomach, and heart. “It was pretty easy,” Wang said. “[The mink] kind of looked like an anatomical model and we just took [the organs] out.”

  • Holding back the mink’s organs, Anatomy & Dissection Club Vice President Nicole Wang ’24 uses a scalpel to explore the specimen’s anatomy. Aside from removing the animal’s internal organ’s, club members noted the structures of its features and connected them with human systems.

  • While partner Rahul Suresh ’25 watches with a scalpel in hand, Preethi Ram ’25 peels back the mink’s skin to observe its internal structures. “It was interesting because the mink was very human-like,” Ram said.

  • Collaborating to understand the mink’s anatomy, club members Rahul Suresh ’25, Preethi Ram ’25, and Nicole Wang ’24 discuss a mink specimen. Club members carefully observed their specimens, including both internal and external anatomy.

  • Using instructions from the slides, Hasya Pamu ’26 watches as her partner uses scissors to cut through the mink’s skin. The specimens were mostly de-furred to remove the challenge of cutting through thick hairs.

  • Holding scissors, Hasya Pamu ’26 explains her progress to Anatomy & Dissection Club Vice President Nicole Wang ’24. According to Wang, Pamu’s specimen’s organs were arranged neatly and aligned with textbook diagrams.

  • While Anatomy & Dissection Club Vice President Nicole Wang ’24 holds the officer team’s mink, Club Treasurer Ava Fakhar ’26 examines its organs. Club members identified various mammalian organs, including the heart, lungs, trachea, liver, stomach, and intestines.

  • Using scissors, a club member makes a midline incision to open the mink’s abdominal cavity. Club members had to cut carefully in order to avoid damaging the specimen’s internal organs.

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For their last meeting of the year, Anatomy & Dissection Club held a mink dissection in Mr. Eric Scheiber’s room after school on Thursday, March 21. The mink was the largest and most complex specimen club members explored so far. However, due to its compactness, the club completed the dissection in one sitting, unlike the two-part fetal pig study last year.

“Last year, we did fetal pigs, so we wanted to do something similar for our big dissection this year, and minks are some of the more common big ones,” Anatomy & Dissection Club President Sanjay Balasubramanian ‘24 said.

The minks’ veins and capillaries were not dyed before they were preserved, vacuum-sealed, and shipped to Westwood, complicating club members’ efforts to identify the animal’s mammalian internal organs. However, to make the dissection easier, the specimens were mostly de-furred, except for their ears and the tips of their tails.

“It’s a lot of work [to dissect a furry specimen] because the furs get messed up so if you make a cut,” Anatomy & Dissection Club Vice President Nicole Wang ‘24 said. “It’s like cutting a really lush rug. It’s kind of difficult to part [the fur] and see [the insides] because all of the hairs are going in different directions, and you can’t see your scalpel.”

Prior to the dissection, club members examined the mink’s external features, including its small rounded ears and elongated head. Then, using scissors, they carefully made a midline incision in the mink’s abdominal and thoracic cavities. Finally, they peeled back the skin to expose the internal structures, identifying and removing the specimen’s organs.

“We pulled out the intestines, then we took out specific organs and examined those,” club member Rahul Suresh ‘25 said. “I found the intestines [to be] the most interesting because they were surprisingly long for how small of a creature it was. It was a different kind of specimen than the smaller specimens we’ve done before so it was pretty cool.”

Club members collaborated to work through some challenges, including cutting through the ribcage and taking off the tail, which was skeletally connected to the spinal cord. Additionally, some groups faced unforeseen issues.

“I squeezed the intestine too hard and it squirted,” club member Preethi Ram ‘25 said. “It tasted like chemicals.”

Due to its self-paced nature, the dissection taught members about the mink’s organ systems, such as its cardiovascular system, which was small, considering the animal’s relatively large size. These discoveries allowed medical students to apply what they learned in class and prepare for more real-life experiences after high school.

“We’ve been part of the Anatomy & Dissection Club for around two years now and we’re aspiring health students,” Suresh said. “We want to be doctors, so doing dissections and getting experience is really captivating for us.”

According to Wang, the dissections were tiring to prepare, but ultimately worth it. Throughout the year, they increased in complexity to build up members’ skills in preparation for the minks, including some call-backs from previous years. Additionally, the club has been hosting increasingly advanced dissections every year, and will likely feature more complex organisms next year as well.

“I think [this year] was great,” Balasubramanian said. “We were very well organized. We had a lot of good dissections as well. I did the squid sophomore year and it was really cool, coming back to it, because it’s not common for dissections. This year, we did a couple of new dissections and we did bigger organisms. We learned a lot about anatomy. Familiarizing yourself with the anatomy of these creatures can help you understand their functions in future biology classes.”

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About the Contributor
Prima Changwatchai
Prima Changwatchai, Community & World News Editor
Class of 2025 I love writing, photography, and design, so I’m thrilled to be on Student Press! When I’m not doing journalism work, I’m still typing up stories and taking photographs, only I’m also doing the daily New York Times puzzles, making little doodles in my math notebook, reading anything from poetry to fantasy fiction, learning new songs on the piano, and overthinking everything.

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