September 07, 2013

The lovely bones

Inspired by eleven-year-old Jake McGowan-Lowe's blog about bones, I set off to the Common this morning with a bag containing surgical gloves, a trowel, a sharp knife, plastic bags and, er, a hand saw (I think that's what they call 'going equipped').

My plan was to remove the head from a dead fox that's been quietly rotting down in the undergrowth, leave it outside in water to macerate for a few weeks, and end up with a beautiful, clean fox skull.

We first came across the carcass three weeks ago, at which time it was entire, with much of the flesh gone, leaving fur, skin and bones:

(Sorry about the quality of these images; they were taken in poor light on an iPhone)

At that time we felt that the carcass was hidden enough that it may remain undisturbed, and we decided to check on it the following weekend. This was a mistake: when we returned it had been disturbed, probably by a dog:

You can clearly see the brush and some ribs. At that point we should have taken the head, but again, we left it. When we returned today all that remained was a few tufts of fur, two scapulas and a few vertebrae:

Lesson learned. Next time we'll recover any interesting dead animals as soon as we see them, leave them outside in water (somewhere where the dog can't get to them!) and hopefully end up with some lovely bones.