Tuesday, March 4, 2014

X-ray fillet

Early in the morning, before patient appointments began, staff at the radiography department of England's Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital sent a fish through the x-ray machine (PHOTO HERE, X-RAY ABOVE). "D196b" is an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) caught in the local Exe Estuary, donated to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter, and prepared by its first curator, William D'Urban. The sunfish is usually found in tropical and temperate oceans, so it would have been a rarity when it was caught off the southwest coast of England 127 years ago (although that has now changed, probably because of global warming). Durham University student Susannah Bartindale is working to conserve the fish and needed to know about the placement of a large wire that had been inserted at some point in its history. She explains, Having examined the x-ray, we believe that the piece of bent wire, looking rather like a coathanger, was probably used to hang the specimen, perhaps to display it on a wall. Now we’ve been able to see inside the fish, we know the wire is not part of an integral internal frame, so we can carefully remove it and repair the damage it’s caused so that this fascinating specimen can remain in the museum for future generations to study."

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