Saturday, 30 July 2011

Dead bodies grab our interest (Via Herp Digest)

Dead bodies grab our interest

Along the road, I recently saw a red-eared turtle of a size that made me think of a 9-inch pie pan. I had never seen one so large. It was moving in a safe direction, so I drove on.

I remembered the half- dollar sized red-eared slider turtles my brothers and I had as kids. Lots of kids owned the tiny turtles -- until they were declared illegal due to salmonella.

When I was a kid, when nobody was observing it, which was most of the time, our last tiny turtle climbed out of its clear plastic habitat with the island, the plastic palm tree and water that needed changing, and vanished.

Once we discovered this disappearance, we developed heightened awareness and concern. We fretted about its safety for several days. When we couldn't find it, we were happy to believe it had escaped the confines of our house and was living blissfully in the woods, eating bugs and growing as big as a pie pan.

Then we forgot the turtle completely.

Years later, the turtle's dusty, mummified body was found behind the gas stove. Now we knew.
Our little pet had not escaped to a long, contented life outdoors, but was likely dead before we noticed its absence. The mummification was interesting, as was the fine detail seen in the turtle's dried features.
A young Ripley would have charged a nickel to see this oddity.

The turtle's death was no more or no less significant than the deaths of untold seahorses and starfish. They are turned into stiff corpses for use as souvenirs and décor for the thoughtless visual delight of humans, especially children. Their stories, more morbid than the merry stories of dying little Christmas trees, are never told.

For some people, a dead member of any species, even human, can amuse -- the dead Bonnie and Clyde, and Hitler, have done so.

Most recently, the dead bin Laden was a rich source for cartoons and jokes.

Today, good examples of our being engrossed with dead humans -- without denying a need for anatomical instruction in the medical field -- are human body exhibits for the public.
Most notable is Body World, consisting of human corpses preserved using plastination, displaying real, peeled-away, naked bodies doing everyday activities -- under the guise of education and entertainment for a profit.

It seems a dead human can offer more amusement, humor and entertainment to other humans than a dead, mummified, tiny turtle or a live, 9-inch, pie-pan sized red-eared slider ever could provide.
» George T. Mason is a former turtle owner and freelance writer who lives in Salisbury.

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