CHICAGO (AP) -
Flesh-eating beetles are still being fed at Chicago’s prestigious Field
Museum of Natural History despite the institution shutting down because of
the coronavirus pandemic.
walk-in freezer is filled with animal specimens that still must have their
flesh removed so researchers can examine the bones, the Chicago Sun-Times
beetles pick the bones clean without damaging them. When the meat runs out,
more must be retrieved from the freezer.
It’s one of the few
signs of life inside the museum since it closed in mid-March amid the
Adam Ferguson, who
oversees around 235,000 mammal specimens at the museum, is checking on
thousands of tiny black beetles crawling over animal bones in an effort to
find decaying flesh scraps.
really cute; they’re black on top and white on the bottom,” he said of the
Ferguson goes to the sub-basement to gather more bones for the little
critters to chew on. The freezer was filled last week with countless species
of birds, a “pure bred” goat, and several dozen wolves and coyotes.
Ferguson added that
he might not see another person for the four hours that he’s in the museum.
“It’s a little
creepy,” he acknowledged. “It’s weird because normally the whole museum is
such a buzz of activity, both for visitors and staff.”
Aside from the
thousands of daily guests and dozens of volunteers, the museum has a staff
of roughly 470 people. There are usually half a dozen people slicing up
animal carcasses in the nearby prep lab.
“I go in there now,
and you can hear a pin drop,” Ferguson said.