William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Saturday, 24, September, 2011

Ya Think it’s Easy, Icarus?

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 01:47

An Eagle Owl landing at 1000 frames/sec. Wow. Hat tip, Lex.

Tuesday, 23, August, 2011

Lunchtime Companion

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 10:48

I think this guy really wanted my lunch. He might have been stalking a groundhog, but I suspect he was coveting my burrito.

Monday, 22, August, 2011

Oh, Dear

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 10:22

Going to work this morning, came across two does and two (yearling) fauns, on my lawn, eating my hostas. Not what I’d expected living in the middle of the city.

Thursday, 4, August, 2011

Aw, Crap.

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 18:34

Timmy, Cleveland’s oldest male lowland gorilla, was euthanized Tuesday. Story HERE.

Wednesday, 13, July, 2011


Filed under: Circle Game,Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 18:17

I was walking along, and saw this little fellow, sitting on the ground, cheeping miserably. Didn’t move when I approached, and just opened his mouth wide when I stretched my hand out toward him.
I stood and watched for a little while, and presently, a robin came by, stuffed a cricket into the chick’s mouth, and flew off. So, everything is under control, as long as Tinker doesn’t happen by.

Sunday, 3, July, 2011

I’m Not The Only One

Filed under: Blogania,Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 16:16

Squirrels knocked out my internet and phone for several days.  Sorry about the lack of posts, as if you all cared.  The little beasts nested in the…phone company box thingy.  It’s a technical term, I know.

Seems I’m not the only one…

Monday, 23, May, 2011

Blue Bloods

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 12:32

I’ve always had a soft spot for the horseshoe crab.  Limulus polyphemus, a living fossil, this beast has compound eyes, blue blood (it uses hemocyanin  for oxygen transport) and has been trucking right along since the late Ordovician period, unchanged for 250 million years.    Amoebacytes in their blood coagulate  in the presence of  bacterial endotoxin, and is widely used to test for bacterial contamination in injectable medicationsAccording to this article, liquid crystal droplets could replace horseshoe crab blood in a test for bacterial endotoxin.

Sunday, 17, April, 2011


Filed under: Cleveland,Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 17:40

You can tell it is getting on for spring in NE Ohio, for the daffodils are sticking their heads up above the ground and bursting forth.  First the little, yellow ones come out, which I have been getting from Giant Eagle at $1.25 a pot and planting them all over.  They came back with enthusiasm, and now the bigger bulbs are coming up.  I have yellow ones with single bells, yellow ones with double bells, white ones with pink bells, white ones with yellow bells, and all sorts of varieties.  I love the fact that these bulbs will naturalize, and fill in areas.  I keep planting them, and they keep dividing, and together we keep ahead of the local squirrels.

Saturday, 2, April, 2011

Today, In Birding

Filed under: Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 20:31

As I drove past the Grand River, coming up from the marinas towards 283, I saw a large, black broad-winged bird circling over the river. I expect to see buzzards, which are common around here, but on second glance this one had a gleaming white head and tail. A bald eagle, the first one I’d seen on the Grand and in that place (near Fairport Harbor) since…ever.

And later, in the Shaker Lower Lake, one of the great blue herons that lives there was back, fishing in the shallows. Spring is coming.

Wednesday, 23, March, 2011

The Elephant Story–Part 1

Filed under: In Memoriam,Medicine,Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 16:13

Dr. John R. Carter was a well-respected director of the Institute of Pathology. Coming from Kansas, he was passionate about education and put in place many innovations during his tenure. I was impressed by his teaching, and wish I could have learned more from him. Dr. Carter’s particular interest was orthopedic pathology, and when one of the Zoo’s elephant’s died he jumped at the chance to help with an elephant autopsy. You don’t get to do one of those every day, and he wanted a chance to take some samples of the bones.

Well, how does one do an elephant autopsy? You start with a very delicate chainsaw, making a linear ventral midline incision. You do this while the elephant is lying on its side. You then take 2 x 4’s and knock together some cribbing, to support the weight of the elephant’s side, and people can work in the cavity. Elephants are large, and have a lot of blood. It is a good idea to tie the support structure to something sturdy, so it doesn’t slip. It is also a good idea to have someone outside the elephant, labeling samples, scribing, doing all that good stuff. Dr. Carter and the vet failed to observe these precautions, or so he told me.

As an aside, I would never doubt Dr. Carter’s veracity, but he did tell me this story at the Christmas party, and he had a couple of Manhattans in him when he told it. I was not witness to this, and I make no judgement, I merely report a good story. For he told me that the cribbing slipped on the bloody floor, and collapsed, dropping the side of the abdomen down and trapping the prosectors in the belly of the beast. Literally.

Post-mortem processes being what they are, the elephant was in full rigor, and was fairly large anyway. The people trapped inside were unable to lift the abdominal flap to get out. They were stuck, and shouting for help did not work. Not many people really want to hang around a dead elephant after all, and this was being done out of view of the public. So there they were, stuck.

But both prosectors were well-trained in anatomy, and new what to do. Using the spine as a landmark (and possibly a handrail, they followed the intestines all the way back to the posterior end of the carcass. Using their blades, they opened the colon and were able to escape via the anus, emerging slimy yet unbowed. After a long shower, and with some assistance, they rebuilt the structure and finished the post-mortem.

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