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The perfect sheep skull


At the start of the year I wrote a post about the five skulls I would like to find this year. One of them was a perfect sheep skull, with both horns and both jaws. I have found loads of sheep skulls before, but none with all five parts. I found a great sheep skull on Sheriffmuir, but one on the jaws and one of the horns was missing. I've found three sheep skulls which have lower jaws, but which were female or didn't have horns. And the closest I came was this skull which I called Montferno from Titus Well Moor which had both horns but only one of the jaws.

I was starting to think I would never find a perfect sheep skull until two weeks ago when I was on a walk with Dad in Titus Well Wood. We were climbing up to the top of the hill to see if we could see the red deer when we found a dead sheep at the edge of a sheep field on the moor.

This was me after I just found the skull. It was pretty grotty because it still had some last bits of skin over the scalp and the eye socket, but Dad pulled that off with his knife.

Once the last bits of skin came off I put it in a bath of biological washing powder. I didn't use peroxide on this one because I've been told museums don't use peroxide because it's easier to see the detail on the bone if it's not bleached.

This is what it looks like from the front. It has all the teeth and all the incisors.

This is what it looks like with the horn off. Horns are different to antlers. Only deer have antlers, and antlers are hard bone which fall off every year. Horns have two parts. Inside is solid bone attached to the skull, and this bone is called the core. Around the core is the horn, which a bit a bit like fingernails and made of the the same thing as human hair. Horn can rot really quickly when the animal dies.

I was really pleased that it had the incisors, because incisors can fall out easily and when they do they are impossible to find again. It only had six incisors, but I think the two on the edges hadn't grown through yet. You can see the incisor on the right still in the hole. That might mean the sheep was young if it's teeth were still growing.

All six cheek teeth have come through. The front three are called pre-molars, and the back three are the molars. One of the second pre-molars was a funny shape, though. When I looked I saw the tooth had grown wrong and looked funny because it had come down at an angle.

Here's a picture of a sheep which has horns the same size. In it's ear you see the ear-tag. All sheep have to have ear tags which are a bit like registration plates for sheep so you can tell them apart.

Although the ear had rotten away, I found the ear tag near the body.

This was a great find, and probably one of my best skulls yet. It gets even better, though, because further up the hill we found another dead sheep with horns which will be rotted down in another month or so !

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ashley said...


Treesha said...

Thank you for providing such a clear description of the sheep skull. I discovered one yesterday, but I wasn't sure what it was then. I should have guessed, as we have a farm next door with a lot sheep and cattle!

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