Phrases such as "bidding war," "invest now," and "panic over short supply" evoke images of brave new drugs. An apologetic "It's on back order" is a common refrain from L.L. Bean or Land's End. But these phrases are being applied to the fetal pig, a staple of the biology teaching laboratory as a model of vertebrate anatomy. The foot-long beasts, once considered mere slaughterhouse waste, now bring in more bacon than a nice pair of pork chops. Spiraling fetal pig prices have biology instructors seeking solutions, including dissection stand-ins. U.S. classes use an estimated half million fetal pigs a year.

Fetal pigs ultimately come from slaughterhouses, which sell them to vendors that pass them on to the supply houses whose catalogs stuff biology instructors' mailboxes. "Fetal pigs vary in price from $13 to $23.74. We've had two price increases, on April 1 and November 1, and are paying 10 times...

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