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 !



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 !


A surprise box from Alaska

Jake
Jake

It has been extremely wintery here in Scotland for the last few days. Earlier in the week we had six inches of snow overnight: then the next day, we had double that, followed by a storm Even the pine marten's nest was destroyed in a storm last week (luckily the pine marten is okay though, here's a video of it yesterday !).

Many animals are really adapted for living in cold climates, and it doesn't get much colder than Alaska, one of the US states which is up besides Canada. A very kind man called Mr McDonough who works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game contacted me last summer, asking me if I was interested in any skulls from his area. All of the skulls he suggested were amazing, like a moose and a coyote, but there were practical (and legal !) difficulties with such a big gift. Then this box arrived - read on to see what was inside !



The death experiment

Jake
Jake

One of the most common emails I get in my inbox is: "How long does it take for a body to decompose ?" (Yep, my inbox can be a bit weird at times). But this is useful to know, because if you find a half decomposed body you can work out when it died, and when the bones should be clean by. So here's my expert answer based on all my years of experience:

I don't know. 

I don't know because it all depends on so many different factors that it's almost impossible to tell. I've seen a juvenile red deer which was reduced to white bones in three months, or the badger had still had most of its skin intact after eight months, and it depends on weather, size of the animal, temperature, and all sorts of things. This week's post is about an experiment I have been doing to try and learn more about how long decomposition takes. (Warning: it's a bit yucky in parts !)

Goodbye 2014, hello 2015 !

Jake



At the end of each year I have been blogging I have written a post about how the year went, things I have learned or what I am looking forward to for the next year. It's good to take some time out to look at the year, see what I have achieved and sometimes what I would have done differently.

It's also interesting looking back at these, because never in my wildest dreams would I have expected a year like 2013, in which I have achieved far more than I could have imagined. Read on to see what lessons I have learned this year !


Happy Christmas everyone !

Jake

Happy Christmas ! There is not much snow here at the moment but there is some forecast for later today. This pic was taken at a hidden pond in the Pheasant Woods when we had snow a few weeks ago.


I am hoping to get archery lessons next year, so that will be my main present. I'm hoping to get out on walks a bit, and do some more exploring, and to check my trail camera (I got footage of a goldcrest yesterday). I hope you all have a nice Christmas and you get what you want ! I'll post again on New Year's Eve with my round-up of my year.

PS. This is also my 350th blog post ! That's pretty amazing. Here's to the next 350 !




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