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Strange bones #9: a horribly broken bone


There is a wood on a moor near my house which I started exploring last year. It is difficult to get to, because you need to cross a field, go down into a steep valley cross a stream and up the other side. The wood is on a steep hill, and some of the ground is very wet and soggy making it difficult to get through.  The good thing about this wood is that it has lots and lots of bones in it, no-one goes there apart from me and dad, and it is where I saw my first crossbill.

This week I am going to write about a bone that dad found there last year. It is very weird, and unlike any other bone I have seen.

The first thing you notice is that it is bent. It is about 18cm long. Bits of it are smooth and other bits are gnarled and spiky. It has holes through the middle of it, and two parts where there are cuts almost the whole way through the bone.

At one end of the bone, you can see into the hollow inside as if the top part is missing.

At the other end is the clue that made me realise what it was.  I recognised it as being the bottom end of a tibia, which is a shin bone in humans, and the middle leg bone in deer. Because the other types of bones in that wood, and the other bones nearby, I knew it was from a roe deer, which must have broken it's back leg, which then healed horribly. Here's a picture of it with a normal roe deer tibia.

When they are side by side it is difficult to see they are the same bone. The broken leg is much shorter and thicker, and much rougher too. It must have been painful for the roe deer, because they couldn't use it to run on. Even though the roe deer lived long enough for it to heal, there must have been infection in the bone too.

The two and bottom of the bone are really the only ones which are the same. This is the ankle end of the bone where it is easy to spot what it is.

At the other end you can just about see the triangle shape of the bone.

I have so far found three sets of bones of deer than could only run on three legs. Even though it must be tough and painful, deer can still survive with just three legs. There was a red deer with a broken front leg that I wrote about here which had lived in Dougal's Cairn wood where the gamekeeper had never noticed it, and I found another red deer that only had three legs from birth that I haven't written about yet.

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HenstridgeSJ said...

Excellent analysis, Jake! Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

amazing :D

Anonymous said...

what about the skull you found in the ice house?? the one that looked like a cat.
what happened?????


Jake said...

Hi Emmy. I cleaned it up and it's fine, but it hardly has any teeth.

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