Along with frogs and earthworms, fetal pigs are among the most common animals used in classroom dissection. There are several reasons for this, the main reason being that pigs, like humans, are mammals. Shared traits include common hair, mammary glands, live birth, similar organ systems, metabolic levels, and basic body form. They also allow for the study of fetal circulation, which differs from that of an adult. Secondly, fetal pigs are easy to obtain because they are by-products of the pork industry. Fetal pigs are the unborn piglets of sows that were killed by the meat packing industry. These pigs are not bred and killed for this purpose, but are extracted from the deceased sow’s uterus. Fetal pigs not used in classroom dissections are often used in fertilizer or simply discarded. Thirdly, fetal pigs are cheap, which is an essential component for dissection use by schools. They can be ordered for about $30 at biological product companies. Fourthly, fetal pigs are easy to dissect because of their soft tissue and incompletely developed bones that are still made of cartilage. In addition, they are relatively large with well-developed organs that are easily visible. As long as the pork industry exists, fetal pigs will be relatively abundant, making them the prime choice for classroom dissections.
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