Last year I got an email from a bone collector in the USA. His name was Steve Dean and he had found my website on the internet, and he sent me an email to say he liked it. He asked if I would like any skulls from America. I thought about it, and asked if he had a beaver skull, and he did !
I chose a beaver skull because it looks cool and you used to get them in Scotland, but not really any more. Beavers have been extinct in Scotland for about 800 years, but people are trying to reintroduce them. There are some other beavers which have escaped into the wild near me, and people are trying to capture them again. Here's a stuffed beaver at the McManus Museum in Dundee:
Then about ten days ago, I got a brilliant surprise !
I'd seen a beaver skull before at Perth Museum, but it was behind glass so I couldn't have a proper look. The first thing I noticed was the massive teeth which are orange at the front:
My red squirrel skull has got orange teeth like this as well. They look the same because they are both from the same family of rodents, even though they are different sizes, and the orange bit at the front is a hard enamel. Beavers spend a lot of time chewing wood, so their teeth are strong and always growing.
The bottom jaw feels very heavy and strong. Beavers have two incisors at top and bottom, and four sets of cheek teeth on each side. The back cheek teeth are hidden by the side of the jaw. (I saw a mouse lower jaw on a walk today, and it looked the same, but much smaller !)
The top of the jaws are round like balls, and they fit inbetween the orbit and the earbone. That makes it look really strong because it can't slip from side to side. The bone feels hard and heavy like my badger skull.
The earbones are different to all the skulls I have. They stick out like horns at the back of the skull ! You can see them better in this next picture:
The back of the braincase is missing. I have seen that happen before when animals are young and the bottom hasn't fused on properly. I don't know if this beaver was young, though.
This was an amazing surprise present so BIG BIG THANK YOUS to Steve ! His website is called Frozen Critters which is a cool name, and you can buy skulls from him.
I hope beavers are reintroduced to Scotland because they are beautiful creatures and it would be brilliant to watch them.
Enjoy this post ? Share it !