Can you taxidermy a human? Taxidermy, the art of preserving and mounting animal specimens, is an exciting field.
From majestic lions to delicate butterflies, taxidermy allows us to appreciate and study the intricate beauty of the natural world.
It has been practiced for centuries, with hunters and naturalists using it to preserve specimens for scientific study or as trophies.
However, there exists a question that pushes the boundaries of this practice: can you taxidermy a human? This provocative query challenges our legal and ethical considerations blurring the fine line between science & art and madness.
This article will discuss the possibility of taxidermy as a human, legal and ethical considerations, and much more. Let’s start our discussion by answering the question,
Can You Taxidermy A Human?
While it is technically possible to taxidermy a human, it is not legal anywhere in the world. This is due to the numerous laws and regulations surrounding the handling of human remains and organs.
The taxidermy process involves skinning and stuffing, which would be illegal and ethically unacceptable when applied to a human being.
What Is Taxidermy?
Taxidermy is an ancient art form that involves creating sculptures using the skin of real animals that have passed away.
The word “taxidermy” is derived from two Greek words, “taxi,” meaning moving, and “derma,” meaning skin.
Ethical taxidermy involves using animals that have died from natural causes such as old age or accidents. These sculptures are usually for exhibition and educational purposes. In the past, you would hunt animals before making a taxidermy.
However, with the understanding of the importance of conservation and the need to protect our wildlife, laws have been put in place to prevent the hunting of animals for this purpose. Today, ethical taxidermy focuses on using animals that have died naturally.
Creating taxidermy involves recreating and placing the animal’s body underneath the preserved skin. Taxidermy serves as a way to preserve and showcase the beauty of various species, allowing people to appreciate and learn about them without harming living animals.
Three Types Of Taxidermy
There are three methods of taxidermy:
1. Skin Mounts – This method involves preserving and attaching the animal’s skin to a dummy or form. The skin is carefully treated to prevent decay and maintain its natural appearance.
The mannequin is often made from materials like foam or wood, and it’s shaped to resemble the animal’s body. The preserved skin is then stretched over the mannequin, creating a lifelike representation of the animal.
2. Reproduction – In cases where preserving the actual animal’s skin isn’t possible or desirable; reproduction is used.
Instead of using the original skin, a detailed mold is made on the animal’s body using materials like resin or fiberglass. The replica is then painted and finished to closely resemble the original animal.
3. Freeze-Dried Method – Involves using a freeze-drying process to preserve the animal’s body.
The animal is frozen to a very low temperature, and then the moisture is removed through sublimation, where ice turns directly into vapor without becoming liquid. This leaves behind a well-preserved and lifelike specimen.
Other Methods Of Preserving Humans
While taxidermy is often not considered viable, several other acceptable methods exist. These alternative methods ensure the preservation of human remains while respecting ethical and legal considerations. They include:
Mummification is an ancient technique used by various civilizations, like the Egyptians. The body is treated with special oils and salts, which help remove the water from the body.
Water is what bacteria and decay need to grow, so by taking it away, the body doesn’t break down easily. The body is then wrapped in layers of cloth to keep it safe from the environment.
This method was often used for religious and cultural reasons, and it helped keep the body recognizable for a long time.
Embalming is still used today in many places for people who have passed away. It involves injecting special fluids into the body’s blood vessels.
These fluids have chemicals that slow down decay and keep the body looking more like it did when the person was alive. Embalming also helps preserve the body for viewing during funerals or visitations.
What’s Inside Taxidermy?
Taxidermy involves various techniques and materials to create lifelike animal replicas. For birds, taxidermists commonly use balsa wood to shape the body, providing a sturdy framework.
Mammals, on the other hand, utilize wood wool, which resembles soft wood shavings like hay. This material is scrunched around a wire frame, and cotton thread is used to tighten it and shape the muscles, a process known as “bind up.”
In mammals, only the claws remain attached to the skin. The skull is removed, boiled, and cleaned before reattaching to the bind-up. The skin is then attached to this prepared frame.
For birds, parts of the head and certain wing bones remain connected to the skin but are meticulously cleaned. One essential aspect across all species is using artificial eyes, carefully placed to enhance realism.
Due to the absence of a blood supply, the color of exposed skin tends to fade over time. As a result, taxidermists carefully paint any unfeathered skin to replicate the animal’s original coloration.
Legal Considerations Of Human Taxidermy
The practice of human taxidermy is widely considered illegal due to various cultural, ethical, and legal reasons.
It is seen as disrespectful and goes against the cultural norms and religious beliefs surrounding the treatment of deceased individuals.
In many jurisdictions, it is viewed as a desecration of human remains, further strengthening this practice’s legal prohibition.
Specific laws and guidelines regulate the preservation and display of human remains to ensure the respectful treatment of human remains and protect public health and safety.
These laws often apply to medical institutions, forensic investigations, or anatomical research facilities.
The aim is to establish strict protocols and standards for handling and storing human remains to prevent any form of mistreatment or misuse.
How Long Does Taxidermy Last?
Taxidermy’s durability depends on its maintenance practices. If it is not properly maintained, it can last around 20 years. However, properly cared-for taxidermies can last up to 50 years or more.
Several factors can reduce the lifespan of taxidermy. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can cause damage to the preserved animal.
High levels of humidity can also have a detrimental effect on taxidermy, leading to mold growth and deterioration.
Exposure to light, especially direct sunlight, usually causes fading and discoloration over time. Bugs, pests, and humans can also be harmful to taxidermy. The oils and dirt on our hands can transfer onto the preserved animal, leading to staining and deterioration.
Why Doesn’t Taxidermy Rot?
Taxidermy does not rot because of applying chemical preservatives to the skin. In the past, these preservatives were often derived from natural sources such as urine or tannin-rich tree bark like Hemlock and Black Oak.
These preservatives effectively halt the decomposition process and ensure the skin remains intact.
Furthermore, most tissue, muscle, and fat are carefully removed during the taxidermy process, leaving only the fur and hair behind.
Drying these remaining components helps eliminate any remaining moisture, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria and decay.
Is It Wrong To Taxidermy Your Pet?
Every responsible pet owner loves their pet, and most would do almost anything not to be separated from their pets. But next, when the inevitable happens? – When your cat dies?
Can you taxidermy it? Well, the decision to preserve them is a personal one. Some pet owners may find comfort in having a physical representation of their beloved companion, while others may find the idea unsettling.
It is up to you to decide what you feel is right for you and your pet. While taxidermy itself is not inherently wrong or in bad taste, there are ethical considerations that you should take into account.
The main one is to ensure that the pet dies of natural causes before considering taxidermy so that you can have peace of mind.
Can you taxidermy a human? The practice of taxidermy involves preserving and mounting animal specimens for display. However, when it comes to whether it is possible to taxidermy a human, the answer is a resounding no.
Taxidermy is strictly regulated and governed by laws and ethical guidelines that prohibit preserving human remains in this manner.
Human bodies are typically treated with respect and dignity through burial or cremation. The idea of taxidermy a human goes against these principles and raises significant ethical concerns.