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Mystery bones in the woods
June 4, 2012 10:25 AM   Subscribe

What animal are these bones from? Found in a state forest near Hudson, MA on May 29.

Length: approximately 3.5 feet. No other bones were in the area, just this spinal column/ribcage.
posted by acridrabbit to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
 
Deer. At least it looks like deer bones to me. I'm not a zoologist, though I do hunt deer and have some experience with their carcasses.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


See also.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2012


A skull would be most helpful.
At 3.5 ft including cervical/thoracic/lumbar region plus 13 ribs is probably some type of bovine animal (ox), wild or domestic.
posted by bebrave! at 10:37 AM on June 4, 2012


It's hard to tell how big it is from the photo, but it looks small to me. I'm guessing a bobcat.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2012


The only large wild mammals in the area would be deer, coyote, moose and black bear. Moose and bear are pretty rare in that part of MA, but not unheard of.
posted by bondcliff at 10:43 AM on June 4, 2012


Neck's a bit too long for a predator.

At 3.5 ft including cervical/thoracic/lumbar region plus 13 ribs is probably some type of bovine animal.

How many ribs on a cervid?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2012


How many ribs on a cervid?

Duh, I can answer my own question with the photo I linked: 13.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Deer.
posted by batmonkey at 10:51 AM on June 4, 2012


I'm guessing deer, based on its size and my experience of having seen a lot of this over time.
posted by heyho at 10:59 AM on June 4, 2012


At 3.5 ft including cervical/thoracic/lumbar region plus 13 ribs is probably some type of bovine animal (ox), wild or domestic.

It is true for white-tailed deer (cervid) as well. I'm not familiar with other cervids except moose, and that's not a moose. (It is also true of goats and sheep, which are also members of the family Bovidae.)

I've said it before on AskMe, and I'll say it again: you can cut through most of the uncertainty of bone identification in the woods in the USA by assuming that if it's a medium-large animal skeleton, you have probably found a deer. Then look for reasons it would not be a deer (other herbivores, size, skull/limb differences).

For general reference for other people trying to ID bones: if all you find is a spinal column and ribs, also take close-up photos of the first few cervical (neck) vertebrae for better ID. Foramina (holes) and shapes differ between species, especially for cervical vertebrae 1 (atlas) and 2 (axis).
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


(If it's not clear: that's a deer.)
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the definitive answers! I was thinking it was too skinny to be a deer - maybe a fisher or some other skinny weasely thing - but you guys have convinced me. Thanks for your help!
posted by acridrabbit at 2:18 PM on June 4, 2012


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