healthHealth and Medicine

What Is It Like To Work With Dead Bodies? Surprisingly Fascinating


Dr. Katie Spalding

Katie has a PhD in maths, specializing in the intersection of dynamical systems and number theory.

Freelance Writer


You'll never look at a pickup truck in the same way again. Image: PixHound/

Are you looking for a career where you learn something new every day? Want to work with people, but not necessarily make conversation with them? Always longed to be a doctor, but didn’t want to give up the power tools? Then, boy, do we have the job for you!

Justin Cottle and Jonathan Bennion, from the Institute of Human Anatomy in Utah, are social media sensations. That might surprise you when you learn what their job is: they slice up dead people.


“The Institute of Human Anatomy is a unique facility specializing in the use of human cadavers as instruments for advanced anatomical education, medical device training, and prototype testing,” Institute co-founder Jeremy Jones told professional magazine The Pathologist earlier this year.

“We provide state-of-the-art education and experience for those engaged in or seeking a career that requires the study and understanding of human anatomy and physiology,” he explained. “Recently, we’ve taken a new approach to our mission of providing education to as many people as possible by distributing our content online.”

Yes, that means what you think it does. Their YouTube channel – plus their Instagram, TikTok, and other social media presences – features human bodies in various stages of dissection. Organs, hair, muscles, nerves… if you’ve ever wondered what they really look like, these guys have the answers.

So what’s it like working with dead bodies?


“This is a question we get all the time,” Justin says in a July 2021 video appropriately titled “What It’s Like Working With Dead Bodies”. Over the next 15 minutes or so, he and Jonathan talk us through the basics of their job: tidbits about how cadavers are preserved and transported (spoiler: they don’t use a hearse), info about the tools of the trade (bandsaws are featured), and even a few introductions to the bodies themselves. Check it out below:

As the duo explains, the bodies come to them with very little information – that’s for anonymity reasons, rather than anything shady – so they sometimes make some surprising discoveries while preparing them for use. In another video, Jonathan describes five of the “craziest” things he’s found in dead bodies – but we’re not talking about things like USB cables or an ungodly number of boiled eggs here (those were found in live bodies). No, this is more like a lung that, while perfectly healthy, happens to have the wrong number of lobes, one ovary that’s grown to four times the size of the other.

“Women, you are troopers,” Jonathan comments. “Can you imagine if one of our testes quadrupled in size? We would probably die from the emotional distress alone.”

Despite a USP that seems on the face of it to be uniquely gruesome, it’s kind of impossible not to get caught up as the hosts enthusiastically explain the inner workings of the human body. There’s no gross-out factor here – the team “take significant precautions regarding what we show and how we show it,” Jeremy told The Pathologist, and cadavers are treated with respect and gratitude.


“Shock value … has never been our goal,” Jonathan added. “We could do it if we wanted to; we could create content for the sole purpose of shock and awe, but we want to stick to education.”

The channel presents fascinating medical information, clearly communicated – albeit in an unusual format, at least for those of us who have never taken a human anatomy class – and answers questions comprehensively that we bet you never even thought of asking. Want to know how big your stomach can really get? Whether Frankenstein’s monster is possible? How we poop? These guys have the answers.

So check it out – we promise, it’s not as grim as you think.


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