by Kaylin Martin
Reptile and amphibian specimens are not the only things stored in 70% ethanol in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Alcohol House!
Departments such as Ornithology, Botany, and Mollusks preserve select specimens in fluid for further scientific use. This method preserves soft tissues that would otherwise need to be removed, maintains the natural three-dimensional shape, and slows down DNA degradation.
Fluid collections are more difficult to maintain, however, as they take up more space and have to be regularly monitored to prevent the specimens from drying out.
Keep an eye out for our future Alcohol House public tours to see these specimens up close and to meet collection managers.
Kaylin Martin is a curatorial assistant in the Section of Herpetology. She blogs about the collection in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s historic Alcohol House, which is home to thousands of fluid-preserved specimens.