As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.
Archived posts: The following articles are from the month or year requested:

Goodbye 2014, hello 2015 !


At the end of each year I have been blogging I have written a post about how the year went, things I have learned or what I am looking forward to for the next year. It's good to take some time out to look at the year, see what I have achieved and sometimes what I would have done differently.

It's also interesting looking back at these, because never in my wildest dreams would I have expected a year like 2013, in which I have achieved far more than I could have imagined. Read on to see what lessons I have learned this year !

Happy Christmas everyone !


Happy Christmas ! There is not much snow here at the moment but there is some forecast for later today. This pic was taken at a hidden pond in the Pheasant Woods when we had snow a few weeks ago.

I am hoping to get archery lessons next year, so that will be my main present. I'm hoping to get out on walks a bit, and do some more exploring, and to check my trail camera (I got footage of a goldcrest yesterday). I hope you all have a nice Christmas and you get what you want ! I'll post again on New Year's Eve with my round-up of my year.

PS. This is also my 350th blog post ! That's pretty amazing. Here's to the next 350 !

The 19-year, 1,700 mile mystery


One of the things that I have learned while being a bone collector is how much you can sometimes learn about an animals life even from a single bone. You can tell if it died old (bones get slightly lighter in old age, and extra fusion occurs) or young, if it was healthy or if it had any injuries, and sometimes whether it was male or female (sometimes from the size or muscle attachments).

I had to put these skills to the test last week when me and my friend Jacob found a very unusual bone a 150 year old ice house. I have blogged about finding cool bones here but none quite as interesting as the one I found last week - or with as much information about the animal they came from !

Guest post: The body on the beach !


I hardly ever do guest posts here, but when Sophie Bagshaw told me this story, I thought it was definitely worth a post ! Sophie is 17 and is a brilliant naturalist and birdwatcher, and we met up over the summer when we both accidentally discovered we were on holiday and about 50 yards from each other ! Anyway, here's her story ! - Jake.

A couple of Sundays ago, me and my mum went on our usual trip to Cockerham, part of the coastline in the North West of England, and my favourite place ever. I have found many a treasures washed up in the shore, but I never expected to find what I did that day !

The One Show, and meeting Sir David


As most of you will know, this has been quite an amazing week for me, because a film I shot with Ben Garrod at Bristol Museum earlier this year was being shown on BBC1's The One Show - and not only that, but also I was invited down to the studio to appear live on the sofa with Sir David Attenborough !

I know a lot of my readers are outside the UK, so it's worth saying that The One Show is a very big show over here: it goes out live from Broadcasting House in London at 7pm on BBC1 every weekday, and is watched by about 5.2million people (or about the whole population of Scotland !) The One Show had made all my travel arrangements for me, so this is how my day went !

Filming a bone mystery for The One Show


BBC presenter Ben Garrod and I had been talking for a while about maybe doing something together, and earlier this year we finally got the chance with a piece being shown on tonight's The One Show (BBC1 at 7pm !)....AND.... I'm going to be live in the studio  with Sir David Attenborough (one of my heroes !) to discuss the clip  !

I love bone mysteries, and the one in Bristol was a brilliant one. During WW2, Bristol Museum was bombed, and when the damage was being cleaned up, bones were just thrown together in whatever box came to hand. Now, 70 years later, one of these boxes were being opened by curator Bonnie Griffin, and Ben and I were on hand to work out what was in there !

Look out for me on The One Show tonight !


Okay, so a MASSIVE announcement ! Watch The One Show on BBC1 at 7pm tonight (Monday) to see me, bone expert Ben Garrod and curator Bonnie Griffin investigating an 70-year old bone mystery at Bristol Museum. And I'll be in the studio live afterwards to talk about bones with the amazing Sir David Attenborough !

I'm travelling down from Scotland to BBC Broadcasting House in London for the live show, but I'll be tweeting as I travel. At 7pm there will be a blog post here about the behind the scenes filming, and later in the week I'll blog about what it was like at the One Show studio meeting Sir David.

Bog men and strange decomposition


BIG NEWS - I've a big announcement on Monday at 8am: check out my blog post then !

From collecting bones, I know quite a lot about decomposition. When an animal dies, the soft tissue, sinew and organs start to break down, releasing bacteria that eventually break down everything except the bones and cartilage. Often you can find the entire skeleton lying in the same position it had been inside the body.

 But what if it happened the other way around ? What if the bones decomposed and the soft tissue remained - maybe even for thousands of years ? It may sound completely strange, but dad told me  about something he saw when he visited the National Museum of Ireland while he was giving a talk in Dublin. These are the "bog people", and what happened to their bodies is stranger than fiction.

A gruesome find and a new mystery

Warning: Most of the posts I write are suitable for young children, but this one is slightly more gruesome and sad, so parents of younger children might want to read this first, since it raises other issues they might not have discussed with them yet.

The wood where this week's story took place is a wood that I would not usually look for bones. Unlike the huge dark pine forests with earth floors where I normally look for bones, this one  is a thin strip of deciduous trees (the leaves fall off, unlike pine trees) where grass grows. Open woods like this are more difficult to find bones, partly because they don't offer much protection to animals like deer, and also because if an animal dies there, the grass and leaves quickly cover up their skeletons

 But the reason that I was in this wood was because I had left my trail cam there for the past week to see what animals passed through there. Dad and I walked up there an hour before sunset to see what had been recorded, but I ended up finding something completely unexpected.

17 great Christmas gifts for bone collectors


This week I have been writing my Christmas list, which got me thinking about what presents would be a good choice for anyone who likes nature, especially people my age. 

There are loads of great gifts out but I have picked my top 17 (for all ages). They go from stocking fillers for a couple of pounds to great experiences for hundreds of pounds, but all of them are pretty amazing and would definitely put a smile on someone's face !

Close up with Stegosaurus !


Of all the dinosaurs, Stegosaurus is one of the easiest to recognise.  This two-ton monster had 17 spiky plates on its back, could beat you to death with its tail, and last weekend I got to see one ( as a skeleton obviously, I don't have a time machine.) 

Stegosaurus lived about 150-155 million years ago, and skeletons have mainly been found in America with one in Europe. The first fossil was found in 1877 and it was named a stegosaurus, which in Greek means "covered lizard", because of the armour along the spine. Read on to find out more !

Is this a pine marten on my trail camera ?


As you know, I've been filming with my trail camera for about a year now. I got this video last night, with my camera which is filming a spot just outside an overgrown disused graveyard in the middle of a wood. But it isn't clear and I need some help working out what it shows ! 

Keep a close eye on the bottom of the wall on the left. Is that a pine marten ? You can hear something as well, but it's very indistinct, so you'll have to turn your sound up. 

Watching the salmon run


The salmon run is one of the most amazing things to see. I'm lucky because at this time of year  you can watch the salmon migrating back up the river that flows through my village. But how can you see salmon swimming up a river ? Because they jump right out of the water to climb up waterfalls !

I was busy for a lot of last week (the second week of my half term) so I didn't get to go up the river to look for them until Saturday. There had been heavy rain the night before, and the current in the river was much higher than normal, and this is what I found when Dad and I walked up.

Congratulations to the "Secrets of Bones" team !


Big congratulations to Ben Garrod and all of the team who worked on "Secrets of Bones" ! Last night, after I flew back to Edinburgh from SOMETHING COOL I CAN'T TELL YOU ABOUT YET, I heard that "Secrets of Bones" had won the award in the presenter-led category at the Wildscreen Festivals.

I've known Ben through email and Twitter for ages, and we met when I was down in London last summer. I blogged about Secrets of Bones throughout the series, did an interview with him at the time, and who knows, we might end up doing something in the future. You never know !

The other thing I have learned from doing TV work this year is how much of a team effort it is, and how many really skilled people it takes to direct, plan, produce, film and do the sound for TV. I know one of the team who worked on "Secrets of Bones" (Abi) because she also was on the CBBC Wild crew who filmed me.

Congratulations to the whole team !

My guest post on Cathy Cassidy's blog


When I was giving a talk in Bath two weeks ago for the Bath Children's Literature Festival  I met the author Cathy Cassidy who was giving a talk at the same time as me. Mrs Cassidy is the author of 25 pretty amazing books mainly for young teenage readers.

She asked me if I'd like to do a guest post on her website about becoming a published author at a young age, and I was really happy to say yes. You can find it here on "Cathy Cassidy: Dreamcatcher"

Searching for the red deer rut


The rut is the one most amazing wildlife events in Britain. It is when the red deer stags (males) round up the female red deer (hinds) for mating, and fight over them with other stags. The stags actually change shape slightly at this time of year and grow a thick neck mane, and you can hear roaring in the woods from miles away.

The rut is also one of the scariest times to be out in the woods when you at in a dark wood at twilight and hear strange roaring from both sides of you, or - and this happened to me yesterday - when you see a huge angry stag roaring and coming towards you, armed with a massive set of 10-point antlers. Read on if you want to know what happened next !

Bath and back


So: Bath was amazing. It was something I had been looking forward to since April, when I was first asked to give a talk at the Bath Children's Literature Festival. I've given talks about my book and about my bones before, but this one was definitely the most enjoyable one I have given so far.

Giving talks is amazing and scary all at the same time. You get to meet  a lot of really great people who are interested in wildlife and bones, and who either enjoyed my book or who are looking forward to reading it. The scary bit comes from having to prepare for it, wondering if people will turn up, and wondering if you'll remember everything you'd like to say !

My whale vertebra


This is a shorter than normal post than I normally write for this week, because I've been preparing for my talk at the Bath Childrens' Literature Festival tomorrow (I'm actually writing this post from my hotel in England). So I thought I'd write a quick post about a very interesting bone I was given.

It was a gift from the man who runs the village shop, who found it in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, when he was about my age. I live about as far away from the coast as it is possible to get in Scotland, so I'm always excited by bones from sea birds and mammals. This one is particularly interesting, and is so massive it has to go on top of my display cabinets with my cow and pig skulls.

Everything I've learned about trail cameras


It's almost a year now that since I bought my first Bushnell trail camera (I bought it with my first book money), and pretty much every night since them it's been out in the woods filming wildlife. It's always exciting going back to it to see what's on it, and it's fun trying to invent new ways to film wildlife. So far I've filmed roe and red deer, foxes, pine marten, squirrels, birds, rabbits,

I'm not an expert, but I've learnt a lot in the last year. I've blogged before about filming my pine marten and red deer herd, but here's pretty much I've learned about using my trail camera from the last year !

The common bone hardly anyone has heard of


Here's a bone that's incredibly common, but hardly anyone has them, and even I had to look up the proper name for it. I have hundred of skulls in my room, so in theory I should have two of these for every skull, but I think this is the first pair of them I have. And like most animal bones, you will have two of these in your own body !

So this bone is flat, a bit like a bird scapula (shoulderblade). The ones I found are about 8cm long, and at one end look slightly like a rib, with a Y-shaped split. At the other end it is wider and curver, very slightly like a bird humerus, but much flatter. But this one isn't from a bird, but a large mammal. But before I tell you what it is, I'll tell you about how it was found.

Behind the scenes filming on CBBC WIld


So...as I revealed earlier in the week, at 9am today my piece on CBBC Wild will be broadcast. I haven't yet seen the final version, so I hope you like it ! It all began a couple of months ago when a friend on Twitter sent me a tweet saying that the CBBC (children's BBC, if you're outside the UK) wildlife show were looking for young naturalists, and suggested I put my name forward. I've been on TV before (most recently on Winterwatch this year) and it sounded interesting, especially if it got more people my age interested in bone collecting. 

I got an email back saying that I was already well known at the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol (where most of the wildlife programmes are based, including Winter/Spring/Autumnwatch, and Ben Garrod's Secrets of Bones), and  I'm not sure what the exact selection process was, but a few weeks after that my parents got a call to arrange a date for filming. There were lots of forms to fill out, and the BBC got permission to film in one of the woods around my village, then in the middle of August, at 9am, the three person crew of Ruth, Abi and Steven arrived !

Look out for me on CBBC Wild this Saturday !


So my news for this week is that I'm appearing on the first episode of the new series of CBBC Wild this Saturday ! It's on at 9am on the CBBC Channel, and my bit is one of the weekly segments about young naturalists.

I spent two days filming with Wild last month at my home and the woods around it. I've done filming before, but it was really exciting going out with the crew and narrating a typical day for me. I was filmed finding two skeletons, cleaning bones, working with my trail camera, rearticulating part of a skeleton, and laying out Roger (the skeleton I blogged about last week).

The three skeleton mystery


This week's post is about age indicators on bones. Telling an animal's age can be easy when they are young, because there are lots of indicators with teeth (like my one), bone size and unfused bones, but the exact age of adult skeletons can be very difficult to say exactly. Even for deer, where I have lots of comparative skulls, teeth wear at different rates whether the deer eats grass or heather, so generally you can only say whether a deer is "very young", "juvenile", "adult" or "old" rather than a precise age.

But this week's post is a mystery too, and I'm hoping some experts have some ideas. If you're in a rush, just go down to the very end of the post, where I put the question I would like ideas about !

My (almost) elephant skull


If you were asked what the two closest living relatives are to the elephant, you would think along the lines of something grey, hard-skinned and massive, and so guess that it might be a rhino or a hippo. The other close relative to the elephant is the sea cow - that's manatees and dugongs - which are heavy and grey, but they are aquatic. The other one is much harder to guess !

It all came about because of a visitor to my blog who also runs a taxidermy business in South Africa called Blue Duiker and who very kindly asked if I would be interested in a skull from there ! So a few weeks ago I was sent the skull of one of the closest living relatives to the elephant - and it arrived in a much smaller box than you might think ! That's because the close relative to the elephant is in fact:

Tracking red deer with my trail camera


As you'll know if you follow my blog, I bought a trail camera last year, and since last November I have been tracking a pine marten that lived in a wood on the moors above my house.While I managed to get  some really good footage of him, I seemed to be getting fewer and fewer clips of him, and I wasn't able to track down where he was living either, so at the start of July I decided to try and film something else instead.

Around where I live there are foxes, badgers, stoats, rabbits, roe deer and red squirrels, but I decided to try and film red deer. I thought they might be easy to film because I know where they live, they leave distinct tracks, they tend to move between the same places, and they are very big. So on the 5th July, I moved the camera...and this is what I have discovered since then !

안녕하세요 한국! (Hello Korea !)


안녕하세요 한국! 오늘 나는 매우 기쁘게 생각합니다. 내 책은 지금 한국에서 발표합니다! 이미 영국, 아일랜드, 미국, 캐나다, 남아프리카 공화국, 뉴질랜드, 호주에서 출판이지만, 한국어 버전은 외국어의 첫 번째 일이다.

당신이 한국에 있다면 난 당신이 내 책을 즐기시기 바랍니다. 한국에서 판매에 일부 사진을보고 싶어요. 내 이메일 주소가 jakesbones@gmail.com이다.

(난 정말 한국어를 구사하지 않는다. 나는 구글 번역 사용합니다. 당신이 여전히 그것을 이해 수 있기를 바랍니다!)

(Don't speak Korean ? The English version is below)

Handling abuse as a child blogger


If you saw last week's post about The Weird and Wonderful shop raffling off a human skull, you'll see it generated an interesting reaction, with over 100 published comments, another seven that were deleted, plus a lot of email messages about it, mostly supportive, with some quite offensive. (In the end, The Weird and Wonderful gave away a different prize, but I don't know whether that was human or animal, since they didn't answer my Tweet)

It was quite an experience, and not always a pleasant one, but I want to take a negative and turn it into a positive so it will hopefully help someone else in the future. Unlike what a lot of parents expect, I have been extremely lucky with all my time blogging, so I'm not exactly an expert on getting abusing messages, but I thought I'd share what I do when I'm responding like things to this for other young bloggers who might end up in the same position.

Human remains should not be raffle prizes (update)


When I visited the Horniman museum stores last year, the curator Paolo taught me that any human remains they keep, even if they are just partial, need to be treated with special respect. That makes sense. Humans might just be a bigger, cleverer kind of animal, but we are also the only species who knows that we are going to die, and that makes us very different to other animals. We are also the only species that has a sense of our own history, and that people have died before us and more will die afterwards.

So imagine how angry I was when I found out the taxidermy website The Weird and Wonderful are offering a human skull as a competition prize. [Added Sat 11am: link is now dead - see at bottom of story] This is wrong. Here is why I as a fellow bone collector think that this is wrong, and they should rethink what they are doing.

Five cool mysteries from yesterday's walk


I'm in the last few weeks of my school holiday (Scottish schools go back earlier than English schools), and yesterday I had planned to explore a new wood high on the moors which needed to start with a steep climb up the hill. But as I set off I could see the rain coming in over the hills, and I knew it was going to be a long, exposed walk to the wood, so instead I decided to go back to Suicides Graves, which is a large red deer wood I've explored many times before.

So dad and I went looking for deer and bones and we took a loop through the wood, starting with the south east edge, moving along the south, then cutting back through the middle of the wood to look for frogs. ( I found loads !) On the walk we found five pretty cool mysteries: can you solve them ? (Click on "Click to see the answer" under each one to reveal what it was !)

Five years of blogging !


It is now EXACTLY five years ago today when I wrote my very first blog post, which was about the broken swan skull I found in my local wood. I never, ever expected what would happen in the next five years !

Since then I have written over 322 posts and I have had 1,658 comments, but I'm still writing more or less the same way, about once a week, about bones I find, wildlife I see or places I have visited. But I have also been on the TV, radio, in newspapers, met some of my heroes, and even got my first book deal ! So for my fifth anniversary I have written my blog post early in the week and answered your questions about my blogging journey !

Come to my talk in Bath !


Okay, another big announcement ! On the 5th October I'll be giving a Q&A session at the Telegraph Bath Childrens' Literature Festival, talking about bone collecting, my collection, blogging, being on Winterwatch, presenting my book to the royal family, and how my book came about. It's going to be brilliant.

It's going to be a great session in a massive room (it seats 120 !), and I'm talking to Ceebeebies presenter and naturalist Jess French. I'll be signing books afterwards, and talking some more to anyone who comes along.

If you follow my blog, or if you've bought my book, or if you just love bones and nature, or if you just want to say hi, I'd love it if you could come along ! It's at 3.15pm on Sunday 5th October at the Guildhall in Bath, and you can buy tickets at their website (only £6 !). The website says it's for 10+, and the brochure says 12+, but if you're younger, ignore that: I'm 12 and I'll be talking about a hobby I started when I was just 6, so it's suitable for everyone.

Let me know if you're coming - it'll be brilliant to meet some of you !

How I identified a mystery bone


This week's post is a long one, about working out how to identify a fragment of bone I was given, and which was found in the village. I am sometimes asked how I identify bones, and it's difficult to explain because it's a mixture of guesswork, looking in books, and remembering details from other skulls I have.

So here's how I worked it out from a fragment of bone what it was from, even though I'd never seen any bones from that animal before. I actually worked most of it out while standing in my garden, so it wasn't quite as complicated as it seems here. So here it is...and do you think I got it right in the end ?

The roe deer of the pine marten wood


I've blogged before about my Bushnell trail camera, which for the last nine months has been filming a nearby wood where a pine marten lives.  Because I have been concentrating on this one, small wood, I've begun to get to know the local wildlife really well, especially with the roe deer who sometimes get filmed on the camera as well. The camera footage is really useful for tracking and identifying the different deer.

Roe deer are one of the most common types of deer here, and are really interesting to watch. Sometimes you see them in large groupings, especially in spring, but they are easier to watch than the red deer, and less aggressive. Here are the roe deer in the group that I have identified, starting with the young fawn I spotted a few weeks ago !

So..... what would you like to ask me ?


On 21st July will be five years since my very first post here which seems quite amazing. I don't often celebrate blog birthdays, but I thought five years would be worth a special post.

So here's my plan: on the 21st July I will do a special Q&A post where I answer any questions you have. I'm thinking the questions would be more about the blogging side and my book, rather than specific scientific questions on bones, but if you have any good other questions I'll try to answer them as well.

Add your questions as a comment here, email them to me at jakesbones@gmail.com, add them to my Facebook page or tweet them to @jakesbones, and I look forward to answering them on the 21st !

Strange bones: the broken roe deer tibia


This week's been very busy: today was my last day of the school year (in Scotland the summer break starts and ends about three weeks earlier than in England), I've been working on a lot of things behind the scenes, and tomorrow morning I'm off on Scout camp for five days. So today I'm going to do a follow-up post about some interesting bones.

Last week I wrote about exploring a wood I was last in a few years ago, and finding the partial remains of a roe deer while I was sheltering under a tree from the rain. The skeleton wasn't terribly interesting, except for the left tibia which was broken. In the end, I brought back both tibias, but when I started asking questions on Twitter from experts I realised there was probably enough to write an entire post about the injury.

Exploring woods, a storm, and an unlucky deer


I  love exploring new woods. I have been to almost all of the woods near my house over the last four years, and know them pretty much like the back of my hand, so last weekend I decided to explore a wood that I have only been to once before.  It's the wood which has the hidden disused watermill above the waterfall, and is close to the deserted castle.

There is only one track to the wood, and you need to drive there. After we parked the car, there was a short track which leads to the top of the south side of a big valley. There was once trees in the valley, but the ones on the south side were cut down when I was last here two years ago. At the bottom, a stream has been dammed to make a large pond, but is is very hard to see it from a distance because there are bushes all round the pond.

Six things to do now Springwatch's finished...


Tonight was the last episode of this year's BBC Springwatch. It was an amazing series, as they all are. If you live outside the UK, Springwatch/Autumnwatch/Winterwatch are a live TV series, three times a year broadcast from a nature reserve, featuring incredible filming about all the wildlife you can find here. You might remember I have been on BBC Autunmwatch before with Chris Packham and Winterwatch Unsprung earlier this year with Nick Baker. This year is it's tenth anniversary.

So if you're a parent, and your children has enjoyed Springwatch, and you want to find out more about wildlife, what can you do next ? Here are five simple ideas, based on things I have done and blogged about before. And as a kid, I can say that I enjoyed them all !

A roe deer birth and a roe deer death


As you know, almost all my time this year has been spent in two woods on the moor near my village, looking for one very small animal: a pine marten ! I've been quite lucky with the filming, but while I've doing that I've been able to have a close look at the other wildlife that lives around there, like the birds, rabbits and roe deer.

Last weekend I was was away camping with the Scouts, but my dad took my two younger brothers up to move my trail camera which had been left for a week watching an owl perch at the very north end of the wood. He wasn't sure where to reposition the camera, so he walked with my brothers down the the south end of the wood. He couldn't think of anywhere to attach the camera, so he just went up to a random tree, but as he did, he noticed something beside a fallen tree branch that he thought was maybe a dead buzzard or owl.

Today I met Prince William and Kate


So, I don't know you what you did today, but today I presented my book to Prince William and Kate, the Earl and Countess of Strathearn...

It's been a secret I've been keeping for about two weeks when I was first asked to do it. Prince William is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, and is second in line to the throne. In England they are called the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, but in Scotland their title is the Earl and Countess of Strathearn, and Strathearn is where I live. They were visiting around Crieff today, and my school was their first engagement, and when I would get to meet them. !

Six common myths about bone collectors


A friend of mine on Twitter who is my age and who also collects bones mentioned she was getting abuse at school because of her hobby. That got me thinking about a post about the myths and stereotypes about bone collecting, and putting them right.

So here are six of the questions I have been asked most often, and my answers to what my hobby is about to help some people understand what I do a bit better. (Tip: check out the chapter "Seven Golden Rules" in my book to find out how I believe bone collecting should be).

My favourite way to spend a sunny day outside...


This week's blog post is a bit different. There are hardly any blogging competitions for child or young adult bloggers, so when the MAD awards added a category, I was quite excited. Then I read the rules, which say bloggers are judged on one post only, and it has to begin with the words "My FAVOURITE way to spend a sunny day outside is...". So here is my entry.

My FAVOURITE way to spend a sunny day outside is to sit down and imagine a world in which all bloggers are taken seriously, regardlessly of their age, a world where child bloggers are not given simplistic tasks in a single blog post to complete in order to win a prize.

Wait, I've done that wrong, haven't I ? That's not what's expected of me. I'll have another go....

So why do deer even have antlers ?


When I gave my talk a few weeks ago at Crieff Library I talked about deer antlers, and passed round some shed roe deer antlers for people to look at and feel. At the end, someone asked: "why do deer have antlers anyway ?"

It's a simple question but it's also a difficult question at the same time. There are some obvious answers, but when you look into them, they don't apply to all deer. I've written a lot about antlers before (like explaining how roe deer antlers grow,  when the antlers 'go back' and when they grow strangely) but I've never looked into why they have them in the first place before, and the reason is more interesting than you might think !

The amazing Ceratosaurus nasicornis


Imagine a ferocious predator, six metres long, weighing up to 1,000 kilograms. Imagine it lived 150 million years ago. Imagine teeth that could rip right through flesh. Imagine it had strong hind legs but small front ones. Imagine it had a massive tail. Imagine it had spikes going down its back. Well I have seen one !

Well, not a real one, of course ! I saw a replica of at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, which I wrote about visiting a few weeks ago. The skeleton (it's actually a replica) is from a dinosaur called Ceratosaurus nasicornis (or just a ceratosaurus). 

Massacre on Migration: You need to read this now.


This is important. I first wrote about this a few weeks ago, but over the last week, Chris Packham has been in Malta with a film crew trying to stop the spring hunting season, which is a huge number of protected migrating birds are shot by hunters on the island. Chris's films are incredible. He has met with people who have spent their life trying to stop the hunting, he has talked to hunters and police, he has confronted hunters and has has even been questioned by police. These were brave films to make.

I found this one of the saddest thing that I have ever seen and I am determined to that the spring hunting should stop. These videos really made me think. Please watch them here, and read on to find out what you can do to help.

The three-antlered deer and other cool finds


If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that I've had to be in hospital this week for an emergency appendectomy. (The appendix is a tiny organ whose only purpose in humans is to either do nothing or try to kill you,).  I am out of hospital now and thank you to everyone who left a comment or send me an email.

A week ago, before I went in to hospital, I was out exploring near the pine marten wood. I wanted to see if there were signs of pine martens in the two other woods to the south which are quite isolated. While I didn't find any signs of other pine martens there, I did find a load of other cool bones. Read on to see what I found last week and at other times !

The birds of the pine marten wood (part two)


Last week I began writing about the birds that I have seen near the pine marten wood. There was so much to write that I split the post over two weeks. 

The pine marten wood is on the heather moor high above my village, and it's been fascinating to see how many species survive on what is a very cold and exposed moor with very few forests. It was especially cool to get a glimpse of one VERY RARE BIRD. Read on to find out what that was ! 

The birds of the pine marten wood (part one)


In previous years when I have been bone collecting, I have explored a different wood each week maybe Titus Well to see the red deer, then the Rhynd lakes to watch the migrating geese, then Quoiggs Wood the week after that to track the roe deer and foxes. But this year I've had less time at the weekend for walks, and most of my time has been spent checking the trail camera which is set-up to film the pine marten.

It's been great having so much success with the pine marten (I'm going to write about that in a few weeks), but it also means that instead of exploring lots of woods, I spend all my time in one very small area, maybe one square mile in size. What has been amazing, though, is finding out how many animals - especially birds - live in such a small area. So this week and next I'm going to write about the fifteen amazing and rare birds that thrive in one of the coldest and most exposed places you can imagine.

Help end the "Massacre on Migration"


Here's a very quick post about a campaign you should DEFINITELY support.

Every year in spring, birds migrating between Africa and Europe stop off in Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately they land there in the middle of the spring hunting season which lasts for three weeks. In theory, only turtle doves and quail can be shot then, but in 2013 at least 24 species of protected birds were illegally shot including cuckoos, marsh and pallid Harriers, kestrels, ospreys, purple and grey herons, bee-eaters and golden orioles. These are some of the most beautiful and rare birds, and if they were killed in Europe (where they are often heading for) there would be an outcry.

The spring hunting season needs to be stopped, because otherwise protected birds are going to be endangered by hunters who cannot be trusted. Here is why:

My cranachan skull


Cranachan skulls and bones are so common and ordinary in Scotland that I haven't written about mine before., but today seemed the perfect day to mention mine. I've a whole box full of cranachan bones, but this is my best preserved skull, which I keep in the "Scottish" part of my display cabinet, next to some other skulls which I'll mention at the end.

Not much was known about wild cranachan until recently, when they were documented  by French naturalist Avril La'Vigne who devoted her life to studying them.  Because of her work studying how they swim in rivers, they are still referred to in France as "Avril's fish", or "Poisson d'Avril".

11 museum blogger questions for #museumweek


I wasn't planning to do an extra post this week, but Paolo Viscardi, the curator at the Horniman Museum, nominated me to answer some extra questions for #museumweek. You can read his answers here.

If you know my blog, you'll know I often write about museums, from massive ones like the Natural History Museum, to small specialist museums like the Grant Museum, the D'Arcy Thompson Museum or the Bell Pettigrew Museum. So here are my answers ! 

12 facts I've learned from "Secrets of Bones"


The amazing "Secrets of Bones" with Ben Garrod has just this minute finished its final episode on BBC4 just now.  It's been absolutely amazing, and the best series on bones I have seen, and each episode seemed to go so quickly. The level of it has been pitched just right. There was loads I didn't know, but there was nothing that I didn't understand.

I had been looking forward to it since last July when Ben told me it was going to happen (it didn't even have a title then). I really enjoyed doing my interview with Ben a few weeks ago as well. So what were the best facts in it ? Here were my favourites:

The Kelvingrove Museum (and my 300th post !)


This is my 300th post since I started blogging in July 2009 ! I did a big post when I reached 100, but I haven't really bothered with any milestones since then (I almost forgot about this one too !). It is also a good time to write about the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow because it is the museum I have visited the most, and each time I plan to write a blog post but never get round to it.

It is one of my favourite museums in Scotland, and I've visited a few, like the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the McManus and the D'Arcy Thomson Museum in Dundee, Perth Art Gallery and Museum, the Huntarian, the Stirling Smith Museum and the Bell Pettigrew Museum. So here's my write up of it !

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