Why Is "Guinea Pig" Used as the Colloquial Term for Test Subjects?

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The term "Guinea Pig" usually means that you'll be working with some element of the unknown. Find out why "Guinea Pig" is used as a colloquial term for test subjects with help from an experienced chemistry professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry & Biology Concepts
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Robin Higgins. And this is, "Why is guinea pig used as the colloquial term for test subjects?" Okay so we all know about this. When you call someone a guinea pig it means they're going to have to go do something bad or unknown. And so the reason is because even though rats are popular now for various scientific testing. Before rats it was guinea pigs. And so guinea pigs are the historical testing animal. So there's lots of studies that guinea pigs have participated in against their cute little wills. And for instance in 1890 the antitoxin for diphtheria was discovered and guinea pigs were used as a test subjects. It's just one of the ways that they've helped out. And millions of people is estimated have been saves since this has happened. And so basically guinea pigs started to lose favor and rats and mice replaced them. Rats and mice are really cheap. They're genetically very similar to humans. More similar then guinea pigs. And so they started to overcome in popularity. But the term guinea pig have already been stuck. I personally would prefer that to being called a rat anyway. Alternative animals that are used now in testing commonly are dogs. And specifically beagles. Because they're so pure bred. And then sometimes monkeys will get used although that's not very common. And involves a lot of paperwork to fill out before you are allowed to use monkeys. Just as a last note I recommend you all Google image Texel guinea pigs. They are pretty great. Alright I'm Robin Higgins. And this is, Why is the term guinea pigs used colloquially as a test subject?"


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