Diaphonization, or clearing and staining, is a chemical process used with vertebrate specimens in order to highlight their skeletal structures. Alizarin red bonds to bony skeletons, and alcian blue bonds to cartilaginous skeletons, as seen in this skate. It works best with small specimens that have delicate structures - this lil’ guy was the size of my palm.

Just one of more than two million fish specimens at The Field Museum!

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Last week in my ich class we started doing a cladistics project with some clear and stained specimen. Cladistics in a nutshell is a way to classify organisms based on morphological characteristics.

The process of clearing and staining is kind of tedious but the results looks super rad. Basically it removes the pigment from the tissue and then after staining the bones are a purplie-red and the cartilage is blue making it really easy to identify different bones and such in the body. 

Here’s how you can clear and stain at home.