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 !



Everything I've learned about trail cameras

Jake

It's almost a year now that since I bought my first Bushnell trail camera (I bought it with my first book money), and pretty much every night since them it's been out in the woods filming wildlife. It's always exciting going back to it to see what's on it, and it's fun trying to invent new ways to film wildlife. So far I've filmed roe and red deer, foxes, pine marten, squirrels, birds, rabbits,

I'm not an expert, but I've learnt a lot in the last year. I've blogged before about filming my pine marten and red deer herd, but here's pretty much I've learned about using my trail camera from the last year !



The common bone hardly anyone has heard of

Jake

Here's a bone that's incredibly common, but hardly anyone has them, and even I had to look up the proper name for it. I have hundred of skulls in my room, so in theory I should have two of these for every skull, but I think this is the first pair of them I have. And like most animal bones, you will have two of these in your own body !

So this bone is flat, a bit like a bird scapula (shoulderblade). The ones I found are about 8cm long, and at one end look slightly like a rib, with a Y-shaped split. At the other end it is wider and curver, very slightly like a bird humerus, but much flatter. But this one isn't from a bird, but a large mammal. But before I tell you what it is, I'll tell you about how it was found.

Behind the scenes filming on CBBC WIld

Jake

So...as I revealed earlier in the week, at 9am today my piece on CBBC Wild will be broadcast. I haven't yet seen the final version, so I hope you like it ! It all began a couple of months ago when a friend on Twitter sent me a tweet saying that the CBBC (children's BBC, if you're outside the UK) wildlife show were looking for young naturalists, and suggested I put my name forward. I've been on TV before (most recently on Winterwatch this year) and it sounded interesting, especially if it got more people my age interested in bone collecting. 

I got an email back saying that I was already well known at the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol (where most of the wildlife programmes are based, including Winter/Spring/Autumnwatch, and Ben Garrod's Secrets of Bones), and  I'm not sure what the exact selection process was, but a few weeks after that my parents got a call to arrange a date for filming. There were lots of forms to fill out, and the BBC got permission to film in one of the woods around my village, then in the middle of August, at 9am, the three person crew of Ruth, Abi and Steven arrived !


Look out for me on CBBC Wild this Saturday !

Jake


So my news for this week is that I'm appearing on the first episode of the new series of CBBC Wild this Saturday ! It's on at 9am on the CBBC Channel, and my bit is one of the weekly segments about young naturalists.

I spent two days filming with Wild last month at my home and the woods around it. I've done filming before, but it was really exciting going out with the crew and narrating a typical day for me. I was filmed finding two skeletons, cleaning bones, working with my trail camera, rearticulating part of a skeleton, and laying out Roger (the skeleton I blogged about last week).


The three skeleton mystery

Jake

This week's post is about age indicators on bones. Telling an animal's age can be easy when they are young, because there are lots of indicators with teeth (like my one), bone size and unfused bones, but the exact age of adult skeletons can be very difficult to say exactly. Even for deer, where I have lots of comparative skulls, teeth wear at different rates whether the deer eats grass or heather, so generally you can only say whether a deer is "very young", "juvenile", "adult" or "old" rather than a precise age.

But this week's post is a mystery too, and I'm hoping some experts have some ideas. If you're in a rush, just go down to the very end of the post, where I put the question I would like ideas about !

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.





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