Florida high school unveils synthetic frogs for dissection in biology class

The frogs are made using synthetic tissue and mimic properties of a live frog.

The smell of formaldehyde in classrooms may soon be a thing of the past as high schools begin to introduce synthetic animals for biology students to dissect, instead of the real thing.

Students used their scalpels to dissect nearly 100 "realistic man-made" frogs for the first time last week at the J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida, according to Syndaver, the Tampa-based company that manufactures human and animal models for medical simulation, education and medical device development.

The frogs are constructed using synthetic tissue and mimic the visual and textural properties of a live female frog, according to SynDaver. They feature synthetic skeletons complete with muscles and "highly realistic" skin and organs, including a reproductive system with eggs.

Each frog costs $150 and can be reused.

The synthetic frogs would replace the use of dead, chemically preserved frogs, which can be dangerous to those who handle them, according to SynDaver.

Typically, frogs for dissection are bathed in chemicals, and their organs are "monochromatic and difficult to differentiate," according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). About three million frogs are killed annually for dissection, according to the advocacy organization.

The company expects the technology to soon be embraced by school science labs nationwide.

“The Pasco County School District is committed to being a leader in innovation and opportunity for students, so we are excited to announce that Mitchell High School is the first in the world to use SynFrogs in science labs, giving our students a learning experience no other students have ever had,” Kurt Browning, Pasco County superintendent of schools, said in a statement.

Shalin Gala, PETA vice president of international laboratory methods, described the synthetic frogs as a "revolutionary new educational tool."

"We look forward to schools around the world adopting this state-of-the-art technology that will not only save millions of frogs, but is a far more effective and safer teaching tool," Gala said in a statement.