Bear Reproductive Histories
Hunters & Outfitters
and Storing Specimens
Have all containers, tools, labeling instruments,
and storage systems well organized in advance. Use
only paper envelopes to package teeth. Do not use
plastic envelopes. A standardized data entry form
can be pre-printed or stamped on paper envelopes to
enable efficient and complete data recording both
during and after the specimen is collected.
use any chemical to preserve or store teeth. If jaw
fragments are preserved with teeth left in them, treatment
with alcohol, formalin, etc. will permanently harden
the connective tissue attachments between teeth and
bone, making extraction extremely difficult. Instead
of using a chemical preservative, refer to paragraph
specimens free of contamination. Place teeth directly
in envelopes without laying them on the ground where
they will pick up sand or grit.
the sample by species. Primarily because of size differences,
different processing methods are used for teeth of
different species. Keep specimens from each species
separate, in identification, storage, and packaging
systems. Fisher canine teeth are sexually dimorphic
and the great size difference makes necessary separate
grouping of teeth from males and females.
teeth in a cool and dry place. In paper envelopes,
the teeth will dry without rotting. In sealed plastic
envelopes, there will be decomposition of soft tissues
associated with the teeth, creating an undesirable
nuisance factor for technicians who handle the teeth
later on. If teeth are to be stored for several months
or years before sending them for analysis, store them
cleaned and frozen. Enclose the envelopes within a
plastic bag to avoid frost accumulation during storage.
double-check all specimen identifications, both on
the container and on inventory listings, to make sure
no number is incorrectly written, omitted, or duplicated.
Extraction and Cleaning
OR RECENTLY KILLED ANIMALS: It is important
to extract the tooth without breaking off the root
tip where the cementum annuli are most distinct. A
tooth can be extracted from a live animal or fresh
carcass by using a dental elevator to carefully but
completely loosen the tissue around the entire tooth
circumference. Then, it is pulled straight out with
an extractor or similar tool. The attachment between
incisor and mandible of the ungulate is largely soft
tissue that can be severed by cutting with a sharp
knife on either side of the tooth. After the cuts,
the tooth can be loosened by gently twisting and rocking
it before pulling with an extractor or pliers.
OR MANDIBLES: Histological damage to tooth
tissues is caused by exposure to excessive heat and/or
chemical agents, such as bleach. Use a hot water bath
at 70-90 degrees Centigrade for 4-6 hours to loosen
the teeth for extraction, or prepare them for cleaning.
Teeth will be loosened from smaller specimens (e.g.
marten skull/mandible) more quickly than larger (e.g.
coyote or wolf). Use the lower limits of temperature
and shorter times for smaller specimens. After the
hot water bath treatment, dirt or sand can be wiped
off the tooth with a frequently changed piece of nylon
net fabric. A very firm wiping with the nylon net
leaves the underlying cementum intact. On the other
hand, cleaning the tooth with a sharp instrument or
rotary tool can severely damage the cementum.
Matson's Laboratory LLC
PO Box 308
Milltown MT 59851
Matson's Laboratory LLC
8140 Flagler Road
Missoula MT 59802
Phone/Fax (406)258-6286 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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