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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

John Ososky holding the skull of a pygmy sperm whale processed in the Osteo Prep Lab. Credit: Michelle Brown

John Ososky holding the skull of a pygmy sperm whale processed in the Osteo Prep Lab. Credit: Michelle Brown

In the National Museum of Natural History's Osteology Hall – more commonly known as the Hall of Bones – visitors can examine the skeletons of a vast array of vertebrate species. From tiny birds to exceedingly large marine mammals and a menagerie in between, visitors can see the intricate details of each animal's anatomy up close. However, what visitors may not initially realize is the diligent work done behind the scenes to prepare those bones for display and research purposes. That work is performed by the Osteo Prep Lab (OPL), a unit of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, which includes a few strong-stomached Smithsonian staff members and a colony of very hungry bugs.

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