Bone Cooker and Dermestid beetle cages

Submitted by Betsy on 5/23/01. ( )

I am a laboratory planner designing a forensic laboratory. The client has requested a "bone cooker" to eliminate the rotting flesh from the bone. Does anyone know of a commercial manufacturer of this
equipment or a custom method that works well for you.

Also they will keep a colony of dermestid beetles to do the same purpose. I need the name of a company that sells a containment system for these beetles.

Thanks you.

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Suggest you visit a current facility

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 5/23/01. ( )

You may have difficulty getting good information on this site. The constraints put upon a forensic facilty are different than one utilized by taxidermists or osteologists. The Disease factor is of a much higher caliber when handling human material. I will give you a couple suggestions though.
The cooker you are referring to often is simply a mounted stainless steel bowl about 2 1/2 feet round with water intake and out-take valves and usually jacketed with a steam line, and fitted with a lid. I used one on occasion at the Museum at Michigan State University, but only ocassionally was it used for human material. I would suggest that a much better way, and safer method, would be to outfit the laboratory with an autoclave - not only do you cook the material well, but under pressure and steam, you sterilize it. I'm not sure this is used anywhere but having used autoclaves in college and when I worked in Microbiology for the USDA I figured they would be invaluable for that purpose.
The second question concerns dermestid colonies. You would do good to visit a larger dermestid colony at a Natural History Museum. Most of the very large museums, (Smithsonian, Field Museum, Carnegie Museum, etc.) have installed essentially Walk-in-Dermestariums. Kinda like a walk in cooler only the temperature and humidity is controlled to be favorable to the beetles. The doors are usually heavily gasketted and there is a second room-atrium to prevent excape of captive dermestids, or influx of wild dermestids which may carry lice, mites or other parasites which can kill a colony off in good order. Inside the dermestidarium are the containers holding the colony - specially outfitted tanks, aquariums, etc.
Two places you should perhaps contact. The first is the Forensics laboratory in Asland, Oregon. This facility only opened about a dozen years ago or so, and was designed to be used for FBI and US Fish and Wildlife materials identification. I knew the Director for the first few years but he has since moved on to a museum job in North Carolina. There was a bird bone/feather identifier there by I think Betsy Ann Gilroy (can't remember), but she had some training at the Smithsonian so if she was there, she might be able to help you.
The second place I know of, but don't know anyone there. I think that the site is operated out of a University in Knoxville. They have a research site that studies "decomposition" of human bodies. They obtain "volunteer bodies" and place them in various situations at various times of the year to attempt to get a handle on ageing of bodies. For example, if a body was drug out of a lake, how could you figure out if it was in there 1 day, 5 days, or 2 months. The facility in Knoxville takes "volunteers" and places them in a lake or pond and observes them through time to get a handle on this very gross science. The only reason I mention this facility is that they probably have a complete laboratory already set up, and would be very familiar with the disease factor.
Good luck on your venture.

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