Leon Luther Pray
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Taxidermy (from the Greek for arrangement of skin) is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals (especially vertebrates) for display (e.g., as hunting trophies) or for other sources of study. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. A person who practices taxidermy is called a taxidermist. Taxidermists may practice professionally for museums or as businesses catering to hunters and fishermen, or as amateurs, such as hobbyists, hunters, and fishermen. To practice taxidermy, one should be very familiar with anatomy, sculpture, and painting, as well as tanning. Preserving animal skins has been practiced for a long time. Embalmed animals have been found with Egyptian mummies. Although embalming incorporates the use of lifelike poses, it is not considered taxidermy. In the Middle Ages, crude examples of taxidermy were displayed by astrologers and apothecaries. The earliest methods of preservation of birds for natural history cabinets were published in 1748 by Reaumur in France. Techniques for mounting were described in 1752 by M. B. Stollas. There were several pioneers of taxidermy in France, Germany, Denmark and England around this time. For a while, clay was used to shape some of the soft parts, but this made specimens heavy. By the 18th century, almost every town had a tannery business. In the 19th century, hunters began bringing their trophies to upholstery shops, where the upholsterers would actually sew up the animal skins and stuff them with rags and cotton.