November 2 to the 6 was National Pathology Week, and we were joined by the Veterinary Pathologist Alun Williams to find out about the afflictions that animals of all shapes and sizes can suffer.
A quick question to start you off. what is the round thing that Ana Rita is holding in the picture below? Read to the end to get the answer.
If you thought that a pathologist was just someone who told the guys in CSI what the victim died of, then think again! Pathologists find the causes of disease, so if you have ever had a blood sample taken, or any other kind of sample then the person who worked out what was causing your illness was a pathologist. And it's not just for humans; a veterinary pathologist does the same work for animals, and it turns out they suffer from much the same illnesses and injuries as us which makes sense; we are after all just another kind of animal.
In the event, we saw evidence in bones and brains for the tell tales signs of disease and trauma, and found out about the effects the diseases have on the animals themselves.
Alun has worked on a huge variety of creatures over his career, from dogs, cats and calves, to lions and elephants, which he encountered while starring in Channel 4's documentary Inside Natures Giants.
So what is Ana Rita holding? It’s a giant hairball from the stomach of a cow! Alun tells me that this didn’t bother the cow at all! Its stomach is so large, it wouldn't even have noticed it!