My book has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Young Person's book of the year !
The winner is announced in November - fingers crossed !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.
Welcome to Jake's Bones - my blog all about bone collecting !

My name is Jake McGowan-Lowe, and I'm a thirteen year-old naturalist and bone collector from Scotland. I've been collecting skulls and bones since I was six, and I now have hundreds of amazing skulls and thousands of other bones.

I began blogging about bones when I was seven and ever since then every single weekend I have written something new here (over 350 posts so far !) Mostly it's about skulls or bones that I've found, but sometimes it's about places I've explored or wildlife that I see on my walks. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it !

Five things I loved about the Wigtown Book Festival


Quick note: If you are in Stornoway on Halloween, I'm giving a talk at the Faclan book festival. If you could come along, I'd love to see you.

Last weekend I was really pleased to be doing a drop in session at the Wigtown Book Festival in Dumfries and Galloway. It was a hands-on session as part of the Childrens' Book festival, and was a bit different from previous talks I'd done, so I was really looking forward to it.

It was an early start, though ! I had to get up at 6am and leave at around 7am. Dad drove for two and a half hours to get to Wigtown, and we arrived at around 9:45am.  Wigtown is a pretty small town, but for one week every year it turns into one of the most exciting book festivals in Scotland.

A shock visitor to the badger sett !


Important news: If you're near Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway tomorrow (Sunday), I'll be showing off some of my collection between 11am and 4pm at the Wigtown Book Festival. It's a drop in session, and if you're around I'd love to meet you ! I'll blog more about what it was like next week.

Since May my trail camera has been filming at a badger sett a few miles from my village. I've been lucky enough to get some really great footage of the badgers digging out the holes, bringing up three cubs, playing together, preening each other, and coming back and forth. The wood is very isolated, so I've been leaving the trail camera for weeks at a time. Today was the first time in over three weeks that I went back to check on it - and I got an unpleasant surprise !

Braco 200: The Braco murder hunt


On the 18th January 1978, 15 police officers led by Chief Superintendent Jack Bowman walked out into the snow. They were searching the farmland to the north of my village on one of the UK's biggest murder hunts for 20 years - a spree of five murders across the UK. They were looking for the body of an elderly lady, who they believed had been killed a month earlier and over 400 miles away.

But the oddest thing is this: almost every account of the story gets one detail completely wrong, and I only found out the truth by researching it myself. - read on to find out what it is. And why were they searching at my tiny village 400 miles from the murder scene ? Also why, even after the murderer confessed, was no-one ever convicted ? Read on to find the answers to all these questions !

Chris Packham and two other newsworthy things


This week, instead of one big post, I was going to mention three things which I think are really important: the Chris Packham controversy, Paolo Viscardi's new job, and what I'll be doing at the Wigtown Book Festival at the end of the month.

If you're outside the UK you might not have heard of Chris Packham, but over here he is a very well known naturalist and broadcaster. He's best known for being one of the presenters on BBC Autumnwatch/Winterwatch/Springwatch, but before that he was a presenter on The Really Wild Show. The UK has lots of wildlife presenters, but he is one of the best known.

An interesting skull from a friend


The week before last, fellow bone collector Ric Morris came to my house for dinner with his wife and his daughter. They were on their way back from their holiday in the highlands and islands, where they went beach combing. Dad made made a lovely meal for all of us earlier that day.

After dinner, he told me that he had brought some skulls that he found on the beach for me. We went outside and he showed me the bones he had found. Most of them still had dried flesh, but one or two were clean. One of them was a skull - let's see if you can ID it. Here are some clues:

The link between red squirrels and pine martens


As you'll know if you've been following my blog for a while, there are two local animals which I see an awful lot of, despite them being rare in most of the UK. These are red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris,(which there are loads of around here), and pine martens (which are hard to spot, but I have lots of trail camera footage of them).

Despite them looking slightly alike in the photos above, and both living in trees, they are completely unrelated. Squirrels are part of the rodent family (which have two sharp front teeth, with an orange outer edge), which also includes mice, voles and beavers. Pine marten are bigger, about the size of a small cat. but are from the mustelid family which includes weasels, otters and badgers. But there's one unusual link between them which not a lot of people know about.

The Viking skeletons at Jorvik


I've blogged earlier about my family holiday in England (*), but one of the places we also stopped off at was the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. It's a fantastic visitor centre which shows viking artefacts and skeletons found by archaeologists in what used to be the viking settlement of Jorvik.

One of the things I was particularly looking forward to seeing  were the viking skeletons found in and near York. Both of them had a lot of interesting pathology and diseases, and it's not often that I get to study human skeletons because even though I have been offered human bones, I have strong views on how human remains should be treated, so this was a valuable experience and something I was looking forward to. Here's what I found !

Inglorious: the hidden side of grouse hunting


First of all - a big thank you to everyone who came to hear my talk at Science and More in Gravesend last Tuesday night where I talked about my bone collection, how I started and where it has led me. It was brilliant to see so many people there and have so many interesting questions ! If you'd like to meet me I'm also speaking at the Wigtown Book Festival at the end of September, and the Stornoway Book festival at the end of October.

Anyway, back to this week. Mark Avery has written a book arguing there should be a law on grouse hunting,  how other animals die as a result and how it destroys the moor that the grouse lived on.

Can you guess which bird this is from ?


First of all: remember if you're around Gravesend this Tuesday I'm giving a talk to Science And More at 7pm 6.30pm for 7pm at No. 84 Tea Room and Eatery, 84 Parrock Road. I'll be talking about bones, how I got started, putting together my book and lots more - it'll be great to see you !

Anyway, back to this week. Well, this is an easy skull to identify. From the long beak, thicker than a snipe or an oystercatcher, it's clearly a bird that eats fish, and at 6.5cm long it's clearly the same as my heron skull...wait, did you say 6.5cm ?!?! That's much too small to be a heron.....

Six years of blogging - and a favour to ask


In all the excitement in all the past few weeks, I actually forgot that on 21st July it was the anniversary of six years since I wrote my very first blog post ! That one was about a broken swan skull, that I wrote about here. A lot has changed since then, as you can see from the photos above, but I still get excited every week to share something new with you here.

As it's my blog birthday (sort of), I would like to ask you a special favour. I have never entered any blog awards before, because the people that make up the categories seem to forget about wildlife and natural history. But these ones are different, because they are organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine (which listed me as one of the top 50 conservation heroes in the UK a few months ago).

You can nominate any blog which appears here. There are eight categories, but the one most appropriate to me is "Best Young Blogger.  If you think I deserve the award - and I hope you do ! - all you need to do is email, with the subject line "BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards nomination". In the email you'll need to name this blog ("Jake's Bones by Jake McGowan-Lowe") and the category ("Best young blogger") and that's it ! Thank you !

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