Hello all, and welcome back to the Magnifying Glass!
I owe a special thanks to my always inspiring friend Eren, owner of this space and nature mama extraordinaire, for breathing new life into this project.
When I look back on my time with my boys, I can say in all honestly that most of my best memories, the ones that I hold most dear, were made outside. There is something timeless and true, so human and real, about just being together exploring the world "one fungus at a time." I'm excited to see those moments celebrated here - to share ours and to share in yours as well.
Besides, where on earth else could I celebrate something so lowly and yet so wonderful as....
rodent teeth!?My guys have a pretty impressive collection of animal skulls going. That would have creeped me right out at one time, but it's amazing what you can grow accustomed to as the mama of three budding young naturalists.
A few of these skulls we found. Some were earned in trade at our local Nature Science Center. Others were brought to us by some very understanding and indulgent friends.
The one above, we found near to our home. It is the lower half of a beaver skull. In acquiring and studying these skulls, we have learned that bones have a lot to say about their owners.
See those well worn, rather flat and broad back teeth? Even if we didn't know what sort of animal this was, we could narrow it down a bit by thinking about what it would eat with those teeth.
Clearly, it must eat something that requires a good big of grinding!
These front teeth are really amazing too, aren't they?
They are orange not because Mr. Beaver's hygiene was lacking, but because that front layer is made of a different, and much stronger, enamel than the white tooth beneath. It takes much longer for that orange part to wear down. The result of this uneven wear (the orange front wearing slowly and the white back wearing faster) creates a nice sharp, chisel like tooth, perfect for an animal that scrapes and gnaws its food. Many rodents have the very same orange teeth!
The naturalist at our Nature Science Center also showed us how we can use our skulls to identify that marks that we find in nature.
By drawing the teeth of a rat skull, squirrel skull and mouse skull across a ball of play doh, we were able to determine that the marks on this pecan most closely match the work of a rat like this one:
And hey, all those skulls come in real handy around Halloween too :-)
For some interesting reading about the story that our own bones tell, check out this recent report on NPR.
If you're looking for a great book to assist you in your study of bones, try Skulls and Bones by Glenn Searfross.
Happy trails, friends!