The Royal Ontario Museum or ROM in Toronto has received a gigantic "gift" box last Thursday. Care to guess what that is?
Well, when opened, people saw tons of bubble wrap covering a massive organ. This is what's inside:
A massive, well-preserved blue whale heart is to be displayed on the said museum!
The heart is roughly the size of a small pony. Without its blood and supporting structure, it weighed just around 400 pounds. But with the steel mesh and other substances that should keep the heart (ventricles, blood vessels, and the like) from collapsing, it has now a total weight of around 600 pounds.
It is "a thing of beauty, " ROM's mammalogy technician Jacqueline Miller said. The donor was found washed up on a beach in Trout River in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
However, Miller and her colleagues actually initially thought of the heart as small, for they've expected it to be as big as a sedan or a smart car. She later noted, though, that such whale heart is the best representation of the maximum size a heart can be and be of support to a creature's life. "This is as big as things can get," she said.
The heart has undergone a process called plastination for preservation. It involves replacing water and fat in the bodies or body parts with certain plastics. Such process was done at Geuben Plastinate GmbH, a museum in Germany.
The process starts with placing the heart in an acetone bath to get all the water out of the heart's tissue. After that would be another bath time but with polymer instead. They then put it in the whole polymer tank in a vacuum chamber for over four months to make the acetone bubble and boil away. "Fat is very hard to plastinate," said Miller.
And now that the painstaking process is over, she affectionately calls the whale heart "Frankenheart" as if naming a newborn child."It really is tremendous," she said. "We're very, very proud."
Now this gigantic heart will live longer than us now (about a thousand years from now). Wow!