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Eatin' yer chicken whole (Was: Digestion: Is their a chemist in the house?)



Some years ago, I demonstrated to a group of first graders how a croc'
could swallow an animal whole and not get plugged-up from the bones. (in
retrospect, considering the youthful innocence and impressionability of
a 6 year-old, perhaps I should have chosen a less intense topic
regarding how animals eat...but ANYhow...).

I hauled into the classroom a small rock tumbler, into which I proceeded
to throw some chicken bones (I recall they were the humerus, femur, and
a couple tibias).  I then added about 5 quartzite pebbles, closed the
door, and turned the tumbler on.  After nap time and milk and crackers
(I indulged in the graham crackers, but passed on the nap), and a recess
period thrown in for good measure, I pulled the plug on the tumbler.
After reminding the children why I had brought in the rock tumbler into
their classroom in the first place (about 3/4 of the children had
already forgotten the point of the demonstration), I dramatically opened
the door to the rock tumbler, and slowly pulled out the contents.  Some
bone fracturing/pulverization had taken place, but not enough to impress
the audience, so I dutifully plugged the tumbler in again and let it run
all night and into the next morning.  The next day was a complete
success.  I even managed to impress the students' stunningly attractive
teacher (who, the previous day, seemed to intimate that I was nuts).

I never did try the stage act by adding vinegar, but I would think that
a gastric juice analog such as vinegar should produce some interesting
results if one attempted it (most rock tumblers have rubber liners, and
are *generally* fluid-tight).

Of course, a rock tumbler with pebbles and vinegar is probably a poor
analogy for the stomach/gastrolith-action of a 'croc, but that's another
topic altogether.
                                                          <pb>
--
"Using a feather during romance is quite sensuous.  But using a live
chicken, although innovative, is probably over-kill."
Anon.
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