Maceration preparation

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Whale skeleton

Maceration preparations (from Latin macerare "to soak") are preparations that are made by breaking down soft tissue. This technique is used in particular for bone preparations, but maceration is also used in histology .

Procedure for bone preparations

In order to macerate a bone , it is common to prepare a raw skeleton by removing the skin , organs and all muscle , fat and connective tissue parts of a biological object as much as possible without damaging the bone. However, the bone cannot be completely freed from tissue by manual processing . It is recommended to put the raw skeleton parts ( head , trunk , extremities ) individually in maceration bags in a solution in order to avoid mixing up bones and not to lose small bones. It is also recommended to connect the spine with wire via the spinal canal in order to obtain the correct sequence.

Bone preparation ( here: skull) of a carrion crow (Corvus corone corone)

Now available to the taxidermist several methods available, the residual tissue to remove:

  • The Kaltwassermazeration ( rot ) occurs in cold water and is the most gentle, but also tedious method; the odor nuisance is extreme.
  • The Warmwassermazeration at 30-40 ° C is faster, and the foul odor can be obtained by the addition of soda ash are reduced.
  • Enzymatic processes use the dissolution of organic material by enzymes such as trypsin , papain , pepsin , Biozym SE (a combination of amylase and protease ) and various detergents . This is the preferred form of maceration, as enzymes usually only specialize in one substance and only attack this substance. In addition, they represent an inexpensive and productive type of bone preparation, as the maceration process can sometimes even be completed in just 30 minutes and the enzymes are cheap.
  • Chemical processes use the dissolution by chemical substances such as ammonia , soda, potash and caustic soda, etc. The big disadvantage compared to enzymes is that the chemicals do not differentiate between different substances, but attack everything that they can decompose, including the preparation itself However, constant monitoring can reduce the risk of bone damage.
  • Biological processes use small organisms (e.g. fly maggots , bacon beetles ) to remove adhering tissue. This is particularly suitable for very filigree skeletons that would be quickly attacked by chemical substances. However, if you leave tiny skeletons with the insects for too long, they can also eat away at the fine bone structures. The greatest advantage, however, especially with bacon beetles, is that they enable so-called ligament preparations. The ligaments on the bones are preserved because the bacon beetle maggots only begin to attack ligament and finest bone structures last.

In more recent specialist literature, microorganisms are no longer assigned to maceration, as they do not dissolve any substance, but “only” represent a perfect form of flesh removal due to the clean erosion of the bones. Usually the bones are then enzymatically macerated in order to clean the fine bone pores and to emulsify the fat contained in the bone.

Then it is bleached , dried and degreased. Multipart preparations can then still using stainless steel wire and - screw mounted to. In the case of an assembled skeleton, one then speaks of a skeleton preparation.

Procedure in histology

In histology z. B. isolate smooth muscle cells by maceration with nitric acid from hollow organ systems (e.g. intestines ) and then display them for microscopic observation.


  • Rudolf Piechocki: Macroscopic preparation technique. Part 1: vertebrates. 5th, revised and updated edition. Fischer, 1998, ISBN 3-437-35190-7 .
  • Martin Troxler, Peter Niederklopfer: Bone Preparation: Handbook for Practitioners. Romei AG, 2001, ISBN 3-9522247-0-7 .
  • Walter F. Steinmann: Macroscopic preparation methods in medicine , Thieme-Verlag, 1982, ISBN 978-3136239018 .

Individual evidence

  1. LUTHER, PG (1949): Enzymatic maceration of skeletons. Proc. Linnean Soc., London 161, pp. 146-147
  2. Thomas Bartels, Maria F. Flachsbarth, Wilfried Meyer: On the special possibilities of Biozym SE in maceration and corrosion technology. Published in Der preparator (trade journal), published by the Association of German Taxidermists , edition 1992/3, Bochum, ISSN  0032-6542 , pp. 89ff
  3. - Retrieved on November 6, 2015
  4. Wolfgang Kühnel: Pocket Atlas of Histology. Georg-Thieme-Verlag, Stuttgart and New York, 13th updated and expanded edition (2014), ISBN 978-3133486132 , p. 2