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On the Cutting Edge: AP® Biology Mammalian Structure and Function Dissection Kit

Why dissect a cat to learn mammalian structure and function?

Cats are one of the best specimens for exploring mammalian anatomy. Their internal organs are much like our own, and cats are easily stored and handled. Preserved cat specimens are also reasonably priced and readily available.

Why choose this particular kit?

This detailed classroom kit addresses the AP® Biology topic Animal Structure and Function. Working in pairs, students complete inquiry-based dissection and examination of each mammalian system. The included manual guides students through basic dissection techniques and a survey of the major systems of the cat. Students then relate their study to the structure and function of all mammals. The kit also includes the Introductory Histology Slide Set, which can extend and enhance study by examining some of the tissue types found within each system. The superior lifelike quality of Carolina's Perfect Solution® specimens makes it easier for students to investigate external and internal anatomy. Cats embalmed in Carolina's Perfect Solution®, our proprietary formula, are free of dangerous off-gassing so they're safe for you and your students and have no formalin odor.

Where do our cats come from?

USDA-licensed animal shelters furnish euthanized cats that would be destined for the landfills were they not reused for science classrooms. The US Department of Agriculture, under the Animal Welfare Act, governs the procurement of animals. Carolina is proud to have an outstanding USDA inspection and compliance record, and we are committed to treating all animals in a humane manner.

Teacher's tip

The AP® Biology Mammalian Structure and Function Dissection Kit explains how to properly skin the cat for dissection, but you may want to consider using Carolina's Perfect Solution® Cats with Skin Removed. Using specimens with the skin removed saves valuable lab time when studying the muscular system.

Structure and function overview: The muscular system

  • Begin your examination of the muscular system by locating the chest muscles shown in Figure 1. Think about how the muscles within this group work together to coordinate movements.
  • Locate the head and neck muscles shown in Figure 2.

When looking at the dorsal muscles of the neck and head, note the temporalis, a large muscle located above and just posterior to the eye and medial to the ear. Moving caudally, observe the superficial muscles of the neck and shoulder. The clavotrapezius is the large muscle extending from the neck to the shoulder. Extending distally from the shoulder is the clavobrachialis. Both muscles help flex the forearm.

Located caudally to the clavotrapezius is a thin, flat muscle extending from the middle of the back to the shoulder, the acromiotrapezius. Caudal to the acromiotrapezius is the spinotrapezius. These muscles function in moving the scapula and pectoral girdle.

Just posterior to the clavobrachialis is the acromiodeltoid, a short, thick muscle extending into the upper arm. Caudal to the acromiodeltoid is the spinodeltoid. Both act to flex and rotate the humerus.

A muscle attached to the scapula is the levator scapulae ventralis. Its contraction pulls the scapula forward. The latissimus dorsi, a large, flat muscle caudal to the trapezius muscles that extends from the middle of the back to the humerus, pulls the arm backward and upward.

Extend your inquiry

Teach your high school or college students about mammalian structure with this detailed classroom kit that provides materials for a class of 30. Investigations of major organ systems lead students to a greater understanding of how these systems interact, reinforcing the AP® Biology concepts that help students develop a framework for modern biology and gain an appreciation of science as a process. The kit features Carolina's Perfect Solution® cats—preserved and shipped in our proprietary formula that creates a superior, more natural-looking specimen. It also includes the Introductory Histology Set with 25 slides representing major tissue types and a highly detailed Dissection of the Cat laboratory manual to use as a reference.

Learn more

To learn more about our extensive selection of classroom dissection kits and Carolina's Perfect Solution® specimens, visit www.carolina.com/preserved, where you can also find secure online shopping, product information, classroom resources, activities, and additional teaching tips.

Additional resources