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.
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 !



Braco 200: The deserted sawmill

Jake
Jake


This will be one of a series of posts this year that I will be writing for the history of my village which was founded 200 years ago this year. And I know it's not a great idea for child bloggers to list the place where they live, but it's been mentioned in pretty much every newspaper article about me ever, so it's no great secret.

In my village there is a great walk along farm tracks through one of the big estates near my village. I walk there most days, often first thing in the morning before school or last thing at night to see animals like roe deer, red kite and salmon. Although a lot of people in the village use that walk, only a few know that just a few metres from the track is an amazing old building hidden from view.

Water mills were quite common in the area about 150 years ago, and the force of the water was use to drive something, like a mechanical wood saw or a grain grinder. This building is mostly destroyed, with no roof left, but the huge water wheel remains, half visible. Here is what I found.


Inspiring a primary school class

Jake


Here's something I thought I would share with you this week - it's a video I did for class nine at Dunmore Primary School in Oxfordshire. Their student teacher, Mrs Long (whose son also has a nature blog), sent me an email asking  if I could send them a message to inspire them as they were beginning a week of learning about bones and would be using my book as a guide.

I thought this was a brilliant idea, and did two videos, the one above which I did for them at the start of the week, and which posed a little mystery for the class to solve. (They also sent me a video of the class back at the end of the week which was brilliant to see - thanks Class nine !)

If you're a teacher and your class will be studying bones, and you'd like something like this, then send me an email and I'll try to help out. I can't promise anything, because the videos take a while to film and edit, but I will try and do something. Here's the other video which gave the answer to the skull puzzle !



Why we should reintroduce lynx

Jake


Imagine walking through the woods on a bright spring morning, the trees silent, except from the tweeting of birds. Then you get the strange feeling that you are being followed, stalked even. Then you catch  glimpse of an orange body, and see the tell-tale tufts on the ears.  You know what it is- but it a predator that has been extinct in the UK for 1300 years !

This could happen soon. The Lynx UK Trust is suggesting a scheme that is trying to get lynx re-introduced in to Scotland. If it is approved, they will bring four to six lynx onto each of three privately owned estates in Norfolk, Cumbria and Aberdeenshire that have loads of shelter and are rich in deer. And it won't be as dangerous as you think: unlike many big cats, lynx prefer to stay well away from humans.


The incredible frog skeleton

Jake

Ever since I was young, frogs have been one of my favourite animals. and a few years ago I even had a young frog in my room for a short while to study it, which I kept in an old fish tank. You can read about that here. I've always thought that frogs are cool with the way they have adapted to jump and swim.

The day after I appeared on The One Show, I received a kind email from a man called Mr Lydamore asking me if I would like a frog skeleton.It had been in his family for a long time after he found it under a cooker - he doesn't know how long it was there, but it could have been decades. It was a very kind offer ! This is what I've learned from it:



Puzzles from my inbox

Jake

In the six years that I've been blogging about bones I must have received thousands of emails,  some of which are from people who have enjoyed my book , some asking me how to clean bones but the most common question I get is "can you me identify this bone ?"

Most of the stuff is pretty easy, like common deer or sheep skulls, but others are more difficult, where I have to check with other experts. Twitter is brilliant for this, and that's where I usually ask, and even if people don't know, they'll know someone who does. Here are some of the most interesting ones I have had recently.


Braco 200: The murder at Ardoch House

Jake


This is one of the special posts I'm doing this year to celebrate my village, which is 200 years old this year. I've written posts before on Ardoch House, an old country house near the village, in which I found there had been a murder in the house in 1851. This week I went to Edinburgh to find out exactly what happened 160 years ago.

At 7.30pm on the evening of Friday 28th February 1851, three servants sat down to supper in the kitchen at Ardoch House. By the following Sunday, one would be dead, one would be under arrest for murder in Dunblane Gaol having confessed to the fatal blow, and the murder weapon, a blood-covered poker, would have been taken by police in evidence.

But two and a half months later, the accused would walk free from court after an entire jury refused to find her guilty. So what happened in Ardoch House that night ? As far as I know this story has never been published anywhere since it happened, so I had to track down the documents from 160 years ago to find out what happened.



Up close with a (dead) barn owl

Jake

One of the good things about people know I collect bones is that I have been lucky enough to havebeen given a lot of amazing things, like the leopard, otter and monk fish skulls. I've even had an 80 year old lady drive all the way up from England to give me some skulls !

About a week ago, I got an email from Mr. Greenhill, who I first met when I did a falconry course and he was the instructor, and who later came to a book talk I gave. He said he had found a barn owl by the side of the A9, and asked me if I would like it. I agreed, of course, and he came round to drop it off in the week ! Here's is what I found.


Braco 200: The legend of the Roman tunnel

Jake
Jake



This will be one of a series of posts this year that I will be writing for the history of my village which was founded 200 years ago this year. And I know it's not a great idea for child bloggers to list the place where they live, but it's been mentioned in pretty much every newspaper article about me ever, so it's no great secret.

Just outside my village, there is one of the best preserved Roman forts in Scotland. Most other Roman forts in Britain have been ploughed over , but at the Ardoch fort you can see all the old defensive earthworks, some of the edges of where buildings were, as well as lookout posts a few miles away from it in every direction. I'll write more about the history of the fort, but for now I want to tell you about the story of the legend of the Roman tunnel, the hidden treasure, and the discovery I made !


Some deer, two skulls, and a licence plate

Jake


There's a wood north of my village which I've passed by twice a day every school day for the last year and a half. It's about a mile long, but I never thought of exploring it, until last autumn when dad thought there may be otters. He went to look for sign sof them - but found lots of red deer markings instead. I left the trail camera there to film the red deer, then at the start of December, a roe deer died close to where the camera was, and it's been filming there ever since.

So I know lots about what is in the wood from the trail cam footage, but I hadn't explored it properly, so last Saturday I decided to explore the wood in more detail to see if I could see any animal signs or find more bones - and this is what I found !

Who has been eating the roe deer ?

Jake

Two weeks ago I blogged about a roe deer carcass which I found in a new red deer wood. I set up my trail camera on the body, expecting to quickly film predators, but by the time I wrote the first blogpost,  hardly anything had come at all, and the body was intact.

Since then, the body has been moved three times, and predation has begun. Of the predators so far, two were expected, one animal I thought would be a predator doesn't seem to be interested, and one other predator has turned up which was a BIG surprise !





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