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