Samstag, 2. Juni 2012

The old European Badger

Sometimes I feel very bad about wild animals. Every day they have to search food on their own, in the winter they don’t even have warm radiators and when they get sick or injured there are no doctors around. Wild animals are very though and – even against all those odds - can become very old. Like that badger (Meles meles) that my friends and I found a few years ago in the forest. Please read more under the cut!

Bone fractures look very interesting, when looking at a dead skeleton, of course. It is astounding that bones even tell you about infections or diseases like cancer. I think this badger had osteoporosis and this not too little…


If you look at the skull you can see that the badger was an older one. How you see that? Badger haves strong jaw muscles and these muscles are fixed on a special bone ridge on the top of the skull. When the badger gets older the bone ridge grows bigger. The bigger the bone ridge as older/stronger the badger.

The bone ridge isn't that big, so I think it was a female badger.

But you can look on its teeth, too. If they are worn down the badger was very old, maybe even a methusalem.

The molars are worn down!

Aaaand last but not least: Another sign if an animal was an older one are the cracks on the skull or on some bones like legs. Contrary to initial thought the cracks on that badger skull dissapear with higher age. But you have to know: Skulls of the marten family never have a lot of cracks anyways.

Another apparent trait of the badger is the lower jaw. When the badger gets older the lower jaw will grow together, so they can’t fall apart anymore like other animal jaws. And the lower jaw is “stuck” with the rest of the skull, so you can’t simply remove it.

Stucks togheter: Skull and lower jaw.

Both jaw pieces are grown togheter. You don't see a big crack anymore.
When I find a dead animal I often ask myself how it lived and how it died. That badger skeleton was lying on the ground in a forest, which is very unusual. Animals who know that their time is ending search for a safe place to die. But when I look on the thigh bone I think the badger got exhausted. I believe it was winter when it died, maybe the badger was looking for some food and its hip joint made so much trouble that it didn’t have enough strength to go home again. So the badger broke down and died. But that’s just a story in my head, only god knows what happened for real. Poor badger…

In retrospect I could hit myself because I didn’t take all bones of the skeleton with me, ARGH.

7 Kommentare:

  1. Hello Psy, I have found your blog this morning after reading your comment on the roe deer skull on the excellent 'Jake's Bones' blog.

    This is a very interesting article. I have a skeleton of a very old cat with osteoporosis or arthritis, it's rather horrifying to look at the deformed bones and think of the pain that animals (and people of course) must suffer when that condition develops.

    I also have a deformed badger skull which I think would interest you. If you use the Flickr photo sharing site, you can find several pictures of it on there. My user name is SMG_Skullboy. Please do a search for the pictures and take a look!

    Kind regards
    Ric Morris
    Wales, UK.

    1. Hi Ric,

      First: Thank you very much for your comment! It's the very fist comment I got in this new blog, so I'm quite happy. :D And I'm glad that you liked my entry, too!

      Your badger skull looks awesome! Poor badger, that fracture in the jaw must've been very painful. Your juvenile badger skull is cool as well. I never saw such a young one before. You should definitely post your cat bones, too!

      Have a nice day and good luck with the bone hunt!

  2. Interesting entry! It's amazing (and humbling) to see the injuries and hardships that wild animals endure throughout their lives. Your badger reminds me a bit of the old, old opossum that I found -

    This is a great and educational blog, please swing by mine sometime! (It's about dead critters, too.)

    1. Hello Jorie!

      Thank you very much for your kind words, I'm glad you like my blog :)

      Wow, your old opossum looks pitiful, poor opossum! But it's a very interesting skull, too. I like bones and skulls which have damages or injuries, because they tell a (sad) strory. I will put your blog into my favourite links (still don't know about watching people in blogspot).

      Hey, I wish you good luck with the bone hunt as well!

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  3. If the crest is small,it must be a male;the females have bigger crests.