Today was turtle day. In order to learn about the human heart, the best course of action was to rip out a beating turtle heart. Of course, this turtle could not be dead…only a freshly-beating heart would do.
It would be inhumane to dissect a turtle heart without first anesthetizing the animal, but not just any anesthesia would do. Apparently turtles are highly resilient animals, capable of withstanding the effects of chemicals typically used for anesthesia. Our only recourse was mechanical anesthesia.
The first step was getting Raphael’s head out of his shell far enough to entangle it in a noose. Using forceps, we pinched his snout and tugged with all our might, but it seems that turtles have very strong neck muscles. After accidentally popping his eyeball, chipping a tooth, and cutting the top of his head, we roped the leathery beast and yanked his skull out over a wooden platform. Down came the mallet, once, twice, three times. The splattered brain matter and thick red blood oozed from a gash atop Franklin’s crown. The mechanical anesthesia had been a complete success, and we were now ready to proceed without harming the turtle at all.
We flipped the Koopa on its back and began to saw through the thick plastron with a rusty old bone-saw. This was a grueling process spanning several long minutes as bone chips and dust flew aimlessly around the workstation. After what seemed like far too long, it became time to use the “bone snips” to cut the remaining corners of the underbelly away. Sanguine fluid filled the leg cavities and the little claws tore through the air, despite the fact that the creature could feel no sensations. Loud crunching accompanied the release of more liquid until the shell segment was connected by only soft tissue. Utilizing scissors, a scalpel, and the occasional saw, the sometimes surprisingly thick connections were severed and the shell was peeled back to reveal the oh-so-delicate visceral organs.
The inner sanctum of our beloved Speedy was overwhelmingly crimson, although a conspicuous brown secretion was ever-present in the posterior region. The pungent odor now pervaded our olfactory organs. Only our bare fingers could be used to gently rip the pericardium from the softly-thumping heart, and the frenulum was easily dispatched with a scalpel. In a manner that would bring a smile to Cupid’s rotund face, the ventricle was pierced with a hook and strung to a force transducer. All the while, spinal reflexes spurred frenetic kicking of the legs and spontaneous shutters in the white lungs.
It was at this point that the experiments were actually performed; the EKG was measured with needle electrodes, while the ventricular contractions were simultaneously monitored. After this, the effect of tension on ventricular contraction strength was analyzed, as well as the effects of temperature change on heart rate (via cooling the heart). Finally, three different chemicals were tested for their effects on the heart rate.
When all was done, Snappy was closed up and tossed into a plastic bag where he continued to squirm along with several other eviscerated turtles, including Leonardo, Donatello, and Yertle (“The Turtle”). It would not be unreasonable to imagine their escape from the dumpster late at night, dragging their dried organs on the cold concrete and blindly stumbling in an attempt to seek revenge on all who oppose them.