Friday, September 28, 2012

Deer Bones

Yesterday evening, we went for an off-trail walk on Presque Isle Park. Steph is taking a directed study course in mycology, so we were looking for mushrooms and other fungi – which we did see, but we found the scattered remnants of a deer skeleton, as well.

The bones were clean and dry, indicating that the skeleton was not fresh; most of the vertebrae and ribs were broken and splintered, which leads me to believe that the deer died in the winter, when predators and scavengers are very hungry and in their desperation will eat bones.

The forest floor of Presque Isle Park is barren save for grass and moss; very few wildflowers can be found there, thanks to the vast amount of deer and their browsing habits. Nevertheless, the skeleton of this deer was well on its way to being obscured by the island's scant vegetation. Grasses weaved through the pelvis and along the vertebral spokes of the spine; ribs nestled amongst moss and pine needles. In a few weeks, the plants will die back; fallen leaves will cover the skeleton, and the bones will be hidden. Over the months, they will be rediscovered, this time by gnawing rodents; as the years pass, the skeleton will continue to scatter across the landscape, moving further and further from the spot where the deer first fell.

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