I found it in a private deer wood just a few miles from my village, and there's probably not another bone like it. That's because it's three broken bones that have been healed together. It's from the front left leg of an adult red deer. Here's it next to the front leg bone from Alice, the year-old red deer hind whose skeleton we found a few months back.
Here's it from the other side. You can see that all three bones have joined together into one.
And this shows which bone is which.
Here's what I think I know about it:
- It broke it's leg, but the leg didn't mend right, and it ended up crippled with the bone sticking out away from the body.
- The humerus is quite thick, and much thicker than the humerus from Alice, so I think it was older than one year when it broke its leg, and probably an adult. In young deer bones, like in Alice, the top of the humerus is softer and not properly stuck on, but in this one it was.
- It lived for long enough afterwards for the bone to heal. That maybe took up to a year
- I think it died by itself. When deer have been shot by gamekeepers or poachers, they take all the body apart from the head and lower legs. We've only found the upper leg bones when the deer bodies have been left.
- I think the deer was good at hiding. I met the gamekeeper of this wood after I found these bones, and he said he never saw a red deer with a broken leg. If he had seen a deer like this, he would probably have shot it, because gamekeepers try to shoot injured or crippled deer.
You can see teethmarks on the bone, especially at the top of the humerus. Animals like foxes will have eaten the meat off it, and other deer might have chewed the bones.
Where the bone mended is all knobbly. The bones are usually smooth here. It must have been painful for the deer to have all the knobbly sharp bits sticking into its muscles.
Daddy showed it to a friendly vet he sometimes worked with, and the vet thought that the deer wouldn't have been able to put weight on that leg, but would still have been able to walk around. We went back a second time and we found the rest of the leg bones, like the toes and the metatarsal. Normally toe bones are very heavy, but these ones weren't. All of them were light, and one of them was broken so we could see into it and see it was hollow. Dad says that if you don't put weight onto bones, they become light like this.
I broke my leg when I was young. It was really sore, and I had to wear a cast so the bones could mend together straight. But this deer couldn't go to hospital or put a cast on, so the bones mended wrong. Even though it broke its leg, it seems to have lived for a while afterwards and hid from the gamekeeper. I hope it was happy and that its leg didn't hurt too much.
UPDATE: Now I've ordered my bone collections by name, I've called this one Francis, because I don't know whether it's a male or a female.
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