Diaphonization - Dyeing the Dead
First developed in 1977 by the scientists G. Dingerkus and L.D. Uhler, the process of diaphonization
has also been known as "clearing and staining." The animals are rendered transparent (the "clearing") by bathing in a soup of trypsin, a digestive enzyme that slowly breaks down their flesh. They also soak in several batches of bone, muscle, or cartilage dyes (the "staining"), with alizarin red and alcian blue the most commonly used.
The technique is most often used with specimens that measure less than a foot in length. Thin-skinned amphibians, fish, and reptiles are especially well-suited to diaphonization, because their tissues are often too delicate for dissection and require preservation in fluids. Young mammals and birds are also suitable for this reason. By avoiding invasive measures, diaphonization helps scientists identify bones and cartilage structures as they exist in the body without any displacement. The technique is also especially useful for studying fetal organisms in the laboratory.
Image: Alizarin red staining of mouse embryos
Source:http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/dyeing-the-dead-the-artful-science-of-diaphonization #diaphonization #biology