Come and hear me talk about my book at the Bath Children's Literature Festival with CBeebies' Jess French !
It's on Sunday October 5th, and it's going to be fantastic - Buy your tickets here !
내 책은 지금 한국에서 발표되었습니다! 자세한 내용은 여기를 참조하십시오.
My book is now published in South Korea ! Read more here.
Welcome to Jake's Bones - my blog all about bone collecting !

My name is Jake McGowan-Lowe, and I'm a twelve 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 300 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 !



My (almost) elephant skull

Jake


If you were asked what the two closest living relatives are to the elephant, you would think along the lines of something grey, hard-skinned and massive, and so guess that it might be a rhino or a hippo. The other close relative to the elephant is the sea cow - that's manatees and dugongs - which are heavy and grey, but they are aquatic. The other one is much harder to guess !

It all came about because of a visitor to my blog who also runs a taxidermy business in South Africa called Blue Duiker and who very kindly asked if I would be interested in a skull from there ! So a few weeks ago I was sent the skull of one of the closest living relatives to the elephant - and it arrived in a much smaller box than you might think ! That's because the close relative to the elephant is in fact:



Tracking red deer with my trail camera

Jake


As you'll know if you follow my blog, I bought a trail camera last year, and since last November I have been tracking a pine marten that lived in a wood on the moors above my house.While I managed to get  some really good footage of him, I seemed to be getting fewer and fewer clips of him, and I wasn't able to track down where he was living either, so at the start of July I decided to try and film something else instead.

Around where I live there are foxes, badgers, stoats, rabbits, roe deer and red squirrels, but I decided to try and film red deer. I thought they might be easy to film because I know where they live, they leave distinct tracks, they tend to move between the same places, and they are very big. So on the 5th July, I moved the camera...and this is what I have discovered since then !


안녕하세요 한국! (Hello Korea !)

Jake

안녕하세요 한국! 오늘 나는 매우 기쁘게 생각합니다. 내 책은 지금 한국에서 발표합니다! 이미 영국, 아일랜드, 미국, 캐나다, 남아프리카 공화국, 뉴질랜드, 호주에서 출판이지만, 한국어 버전은 외국어의 첫 번째 일이다.

당신이 한국에 있다면 난 당신이 내 책을 즐기시기 바랍니다. 한국에서 판매에 일부 사진을보고 싶어요. 내 이메일 주소가 jakesbones@gmail.com이다.

(난 정말 한국어를 구사하지 않는다. 나는 구글 번역 사용합니다. 당신이 여전히 그것을 이해 수 있기를 바랍니다!)

(Don't speak Korean ? The English version is below)



Handling abuse as a child blogger

Jake



If you saw last week's post about The Weird and Wonderful shop raffling off a human skull, you'll see it generated an interesting reaction, with over 100 published comments, another seven that were deleted, plus a lot of email messages about it, mostly supportive, with some quite offensive. (In the end, The Weird and Wonderful gave away a different prize, but I don't know whether that was human or animal, since they didn't answer my Tweet)

It was quite an experience, and not always a pleasant one, but I want to take a negative and turn it into a positive so it will hopefully help someone else in the future. Unlike what a lot of parents expect, I have been extremely lucky with all my time blogging, so I'm not exactly an expert on getting abusing messages, but I thought I'd share what I do when I'm responding like things to this for other young bloggers who might end up in the same position.


Human remains should not be raffle prizes (update)

Jake

When I visited the Horniman museum stores last year, the curator Paolo taught me that any human remains they keep, even if they are just partial, need to be treated with special respect. That makes sense. Humans might just be a bigger, cleverer kind of animal, but we are also the only species who knows that we are going to die, and that makes us very different to other animals. We are also the only species that has a sense of our own history, and that people have died before us and more will die afterwards.

So imagine how angry I was when I found out the taxidermy website The Weird and Wonderful are offering a human skull as a competition prize. [Added Sat 11am: link is now dead - see at bottom of story] This is wrong. Here is why I as a fellow bone collector think that this is wrong, and they should rethink what they are doing.


Five cool mysteries from yesterday's walk

Jake

I'm in the last few weeks of my school holiday (Scottish schools go back earlier than English schools), and yesterday I had planned to explore a new wood high on the moors which needed to start with a steep climb up the hill. But as I set off I could see the rain coming in over the hills, and I knew it was going to be a long, exposed walk to the wood, so instead I decided to go back to Suicides Graves, which is a large red deer wood I've explored many times before.

So dad and I went looking for deer and bones and we took a loop through the wood, starting with the south east edge, moving along the south, then cutting back through the middle of the wood to look for frogs. ( I found loads !) On the walk we found five pretty cool mysteries: can you solve them ? (Click on "Click to see the answer" under each one to reveal what it was !)


Five years of blogging !

Jake


It is now EXACTLY five years ago today when I wrote my very first blog post, which was about the broken swan skull I found in my local wood. I never, ever expected what would happen in the next five years !

Since then I have written over 322 posts and I have had 1,658 comments, but I'm still writing more or less the same way, about once a week, about bones I find, wildlife I see or places I have visited. But I have also been on the TV, radio, in newspapers, met some of my heroes, and even got my first book deal ! So for my fifth anniversary I have written my blog post early in the week and answered your questions about my blogging journey !


Come to my talk in Bath !

Jake


Okay, another big announcement ! On the 5th October I'll be giving a Q&A session at the Telegraph Bath Childrens' Literature Festival, talking about bone collecting, my collection, blogging, being on Winterwatch, presenting my book to the royal family, and how my book came about. It's going to be brilliant.

It's going to be a great session in a massive room (it seats 120 !), and I'm talking to Ceebeebies presenter and naturalist Jess French. I'll be signing books afterwards, and talking some more to anyone who comes along.

If you follow my blog, or if you've bought my book, or if you just love bones and nature, or if you just want to say hi, I'd love it if you could come along ! It's at 3.15pm on Sunday 5th October at the Guildhall in Bath, and you can buy tickets at their website (only £6 !). The website says it's for 10+, and the brochure says 12+, but if you're younger, ignore that: I'm 12 and I'll be talking about a hobby I started when I was just 6, so it's suitable for everyone.

Let me know if you're coming - it'll be brilliant to meet some of you !

How I identified a mystery bone

Jake

This week's post is a long one, about working out how to identify a fragment of bone I was given, and which was found in the village. I am sometimes asked how I identify bones, and it's difficult to explain because it's a mixture of guesswork, looking in books, and remembering details from other skulls I have.

So here's how I worked it out from a fragment of bone what it was from, even though I'd never seen any bones from that animal before. I actually worked most of it out while standing in my garden, so it wasn't quite as complicated as it seems here. So here it is...and do you think I got it right in the end ?


The roe deer of the pine marten wood

Jake

I've blogged before about my Bushnell trail camera, which for the last nine months has been filming a nearby wood where a pine marten lives.  Because I have been concentrating on this one, small wood, I've begun to get to know the local wildlife really well, especially with the roe deer who sometimes get filmed on the camera as well. The camera footage is really useful for tracking and identifying the different deer.

Roe deer are one of the most common types of deer here, and are really interesting to watch. Sometimes you see them in large groupings, especially in spring, but they are easier to watch than the red deer, and less aggressive. Here are the roe deer in the group that I have identified, starting with the young fawn I spotted a few weeks ago !




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