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A surprise find in a new wood


This is a skull I never thought I'd find on a walk. I found it a week ago while exploring a new wood, looking for a herd of roe deer.

We started to explore one corner of the wood, and worked all the way around until we camee back where we started. We had seen grey squirrels and three roe deer, and then dad found a front leg and a shoulder blade. It looked too big to be a rabbit, but too small to be a roe, so he thought it was maybe a fox. Then we searched all round that part for new bones, and we found this skull, lying upside down besides a log.

We searched more after that but didn't find anything. Then dad took one of the sacks that was lying about and emptied it out. Inside the sack was another skull that looked the same, together with some more bones and what looked like mud.

We put on rubber gloves that we keep in our rucksacs, and started to take the bones out. It was all sludgy and not nice to do.

We took the bones home, and cleaned with a toothbrush and some water to get the mud off. Then we put them in hydrogen peroxide for a week, which turns the bones white and cleans them up.

Then I took them out the peroxide and put them in clean water. I had to wear a rubber glove so the peroxide didn't burn my skin. Then I put out the bones on some kitchen roll on a tray, and left then for a few days to dry out. After that the bones were clean and nice.

This is how the bones from the sack looked after we had cleaned them.

The strange thing about the skeleton was that a lot of the bones were missing. Most of the bones between the neck and the pelvis were missing. Where had they got to ? They might have been in the sludge in the sack and we just didn't look hard enough.

Now we thought we knew what type of skeleton it was. It was a cat, and I've called this skeleton Kitty. I think Kitty is a female from looking at the pelvis.

But how did it get there ? The nearest houses are a couple of miles away. Someone must have put it there. And because we had two skulls, there must have been two cats left there.

The skull on the left in the pictures below was the one we found in the sack. It was in better condition because it had the lower jaws, and the canine teeth. The other skull, which we found by the log, didn't have canines and was bashed at the back.

The cat skulls look different to other skulls I have. The teeth look like the ones on my fox skull, but there are only three cheek teeth, and foxes have six (like deer).

Where the bottom jaws join onto the skull, there is a groove. Now I look for it I can see it on my fox skull too. I don't think any of my other skulls have this groove. I think the groove stops the jaw from moving from side to side and makes it stronger. Cats and foxes would need this because the jaws need to be strong to attack other animals, but sheep and deer don't need it because they are herbivores.

It's great I've got these skulls, but its sad that these cats were left in the wood. I hope they died naturally. I have two cats called Bailey and Eisenstaedt and I love them very much.

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