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 !



The mystery of red/blue 57

Jake

I've written before about the odd things I find in the countryside when I'm searching for bones, like 150 year old pottery, old poison bottles or metal propellors and cow hooves.  This week's post is about finding something that will be obvious to some, but will need explaining to others.

These two tags were up on a part of the estate near my village, up close to the castle. It's partly woodland, partly scrub clearings and partly an old fishing lake, and it's petty much unexplored and deserted. More importantly, there are a few red deer down here, as well as roe deer. But when I found these numbered tags, there weren't any deer to be seen - but there was another mystery to be solved.


A week in the woods

Jake

As you'll know if you've been reading my blog for a while, I love my trail camera -  a small but durable wildlife cameras that takes video or stills whenever wildlife go by. I've used mine to film pine marten, roe deer, red deer, as well as what was feeding off a roe deer body. Last year I even blogged about everything I learned about using my trail camera.

It's great to have because it shows a lot of unexpected wildlife. When I broke my leg and couldn't walk far, I used to set myself the challenge of sitting in the woods for an hour and recording what I saw. But what could you see if you sat there for a whole week ? Well, just before I went away over Easter, I set up my trail camera in a new wood - and this is what it filmed.


Can you spot what is unusual about this ?

Jake


One of the great things about seeing the bones of a particular animal often is that you get to spot when there are minor things which are different. As you will know if you read my blog regularly, the animal I most often see and find are deer, both roe and red deer. That's what this skull is of - a roe - that's the easy bit !

I found it a few weeks ago, and quickly spotted that something was a bit unusual. You probably won't spot it from the photo - unless you really know deer really well - but read on if you want to know what makes this roe deer a little bit special.

What do I see on my daily walk ?

Jake
Jake




For the last couple of years there's a walk I try and do every day, sometimes twice a day, in winter and summer. It's a popular walk, about three miles long, and you often see other people and joggers out, as well as all the farm and estate vehicles.  So you wouldn't expect to see much wildlife there - or would you ?

When I'm out, I see all sorts from new born lambs to field mice. The walk has loads of trees beside the path that hosts all kinds of animals. I often see red kites or buzzards gliding, stoats, squirrels and deer - and maybe even a kingfisher ! Read on to find out more.


A brilliant find: my first meenyuun skull !

Jake

I seem to always have brilliant luck around this time of year in finding skulls: look at what I picked up on my walk last night ! It's my first even meenyuun skull, and this looks like a Meenyuun gru monocular because of the single eye socket, although you tend to find them in groups with the other main European two-eyed variant Meenyuun gru binocular. 

They seem to be fairly widespread across the world, but this is the first I've seen them in Scotland. They are usually quite easy to spot because of their bright yellow colour. It's difficult to judge age from the adult teeth, since all meenyuuns are highly juvenile, but it looks like a young adult. Meenyuuns are frugivores, and feed mainly on apples and bananas, and come from the same Mayduppus family as cranochan, haggis and gruffalo.

Do you have a meenyuun skull ? Leave a comment if you do.



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.





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