Flesh-Eating Dermestid Beetles Are On Staff At Many Museums

Dermestids have a life cycle that lasts from 2 to 3 months, during which they hatch as a larva from an egg laid on dead tissue, consume the tissue, and mature into an adult beetle. These colonies are valuable to museums and taxidermists who maintain them as a way to clean flesh from specimen skeletons in a process called skeletonization. The beetles eat efficiently, and will leave fragile components of even the smallest skeletons intact. They're also used in forensic investigations by wildlife law enforcement agencies.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The scientists at UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology receive hundreds of carcasses every year that they preserve. 00:45

  2. To remove a carcass's flesh without damaging the bone, some museum preparators rely on flesh-eating beetles. 01:03

  3. Dermestid beetles can pick a carcass clean while leaving the most delicate bone structures intact. 01:49

Written by Curiosity Staff October 24, 2015

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