The mysterious sheep skulls
It was obviously a sheep skull, so I looked around for the lower jaws. I found a set of lower jaws, and then I found two sheep skulls all in an area about 10 yard square. Now, it's not unusual to find sheep bones on the moor, especially as there was a sheep farm just over the wall, but why were only the skulls here, why were they so close together, and why was there no other bones from the bodies ?
I've sold two of the other sheep skulls to the Irish School of Archeology in Dublin, which is cool because other people will be able to learn from them now.
Corvids are the family of crows, jaws, rooks, ravens, magpies and jackdaws. They are clever birds which feed on carrion, worms and whatever else they can find. As soon as I saw this, I knew this skull which was in the New Pine Marten Wood was from a corvid, because of the distinctive shape. It is 83mm long, which is too big to be a jay, magpie or jackdaw, and too small to be a raven or rook, so my best guess is it's a carrion crow skull, even though it's smaller than the length Skullsite.com gives.
My best guess is that these are injuries from a fight with either a buzzard or a sparrowhawk, although it might also be from an owl.
Further on I found these three bones still attached. The one on the left is from a bird humerus (upper wing bone) and the two others are the coracoid and the scapula. Here's a guide to bird skeletons to show you more. I'm not sure what type of bird they were from.
The shed roe deer antler
baby mole shrew
I found this freshly dead
The roe buck
This was most of a roe buck skeleton, but the thorax, which is the upper back where the ribcage was, had been taken away. There was a lot of fox poo over it, which is common when foxes predate the body. The picture above shows the lower back, pelvis and one of the back legs.
The skull was about ten feet away, with the lower jaws some distance from the skull, which happens a lot:
It was a roe buck with pretty nice antlers. It was definitely a keeper.
When I was looking at the bones, I found this femur, which had been chewed at the knee end. This might have been from a fox taking the meat off, or it might have been from another animal wanting to eat the calcium from the bones.
More roe deer
I found two more roe deer skulls. Both were from very young roe deer, which is a reminder that so many roe deer die in their first year. This is a juvenile, female roe deer skull. It only has four cheek teeth which means it died soon after being born:
This skull was buried in the ground so all I could see was the eye socket ! It was also a juvenile, female roe deer skull and it only had four teeth through. The nose has been bitten off by a fox, either to kill it by holding its mouth shut, or to get at the rich bloody tissue inside.
Nearby there were some front leg bones from a roe deer, but these bones looked like they were from an older deer because the radius and ulna are fused together at the wrist end and the ends of the bones were fused on, which happens between 12 and 18 months old in roe deer. Even so, they looked a bit on the small side.
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