Anatomy of the Chicken goes digital

A digitally revised version of the Anatomy of the Chicken learning resource developed in the 1960s can now be accessed through Poultry Hub.

The Anatomy of the Chicken resource will provide basic information on chicken anatomy for secondary school students, undergraduate and postgraduate university students and industry personnel.

Students taking Poultry Physiology at the University of New England (UNE) will be among the first to use the latest incarnation of this excellent resource when the course moves to fully-online delivery in 2009.

“The intention is to follow up with a series of similar resources to provide more detailed information on selected physiological systems, such as the digestive system, female reproductive system, respiratory system, urinary system, et cetera,” explained the Poultry CRC’s Education Coordinator, Julie Roberts.

Julie developed the poultry units at UNE with sponsorship from the Poultry CRC and it was during the first year these courses were being taught in 2005 that she rediscovered the Anatomy of the Chicken.

“Tim O’Shea, who’d taught anatomy to rural science students at UNE for many years, still had a number of copies of the Anatomy of the Chicken resource,” said Julie.

“In many of them, the acetate transparencies were torn and it was obvious they wouldn’t stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Last year we decided to place some basic resource on poultry anatomy on the newly developed Poultry Hub. Various discussions led to the suggestion by Peter Arkins of UNE Partnerships that the original resource, converted into digital format, would be very interesting.”

Permission to use the images in the original resource was obtained from Merial in August and developers were contracted to convert the acetate overlays into a digital format.

“We’ve kept the resource very close to its original format in order to preserve its historical significance,” explained Julie.

“The system of overlays is intended to allow the viewer to move through the chicken from one side to the other, in either direction, to obtain an idea of the various physiological systems.”

The Anatomy of the Chicken has an interesting history. It was first printed in 1964 with two printings, one by Merck Chemical Division and another by Merck Sharp and Dohme International, and “Presented as a Service to the Poultry Industry”. The original resource consists of a set of acetate (cellophane) overlays. This was the first time that such a resource had been produced for the chicken. No expense was spared, with Ward’s Natural Science Establishment engaged to prepare all the anatomical dissection specimens and a medical illustrator, George Schwenk, employed to do the illustrations.

“It must have been a mammoth task,” noted Julie. And forty-odd years on, the industry can continue to benefit from all that hard work.

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