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Old March 27th, 2009, 02:20 PM   #1
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Anyone knows what this was?

I was taking photos on the washlands last week and came across this pile. I'm just curious if anyone knows what it was? I can see it had feathers, and perhaps little teeth?

Does anyone know?

bones on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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Old March 27th, 2009, 02:37 PM   #2
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Some idea of the length and breadth of the skull might help us, Russ, please?
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Old March 27th, 2009, 06:37 PM   #3
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My first impression is that it is not a skull, but the pelvic girdle of a bird. I could be way out. Some colour might help.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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It is the sternum or breast bone of a bird, possibly a duck or gull. The bone is upside down from the way the bird stands, so the keel would be on the lower side. The little ridges and valleys are where the ribs join the breast bone. The areas near the holes in the bone which are covered in the photo are areas where the shoulder bones (clavicles and furcula) would be attached.

The keel on the breastbone (we don't have a keel) is present in birds so the big muscles for flight have lots of area to attach to the chest and pull down on the wing bones.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 05:12 AM   #5
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And I thought that was a skull :)
Learn something new every day. I'm not really able to judge the length, I took the picture about a week ago and never really thought about logging size. I was just out walking round not looking for anything in particular when I found it. I'd say though if I recall it was about the length of my size 8 boot.

Thanks for the info so far people, oh by the way I'm fairly new to photography, so feel free to comment on my pictures :)

Russ
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Old March 28th, 2009, 07:32 AM   #6
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Hi Russ,

It certainly looks like a skull at first glance, doesn't it. That's pretty big for a duck or gull, could be a heron or something I guess. If you look at the picture again, sticking out the top of the "skull" you can also see some neck bones, so it is all pretty suggestive of a skull. But if you look where you thought there were teeth you can see the ribs alongside the breast bone.

By the way, the shapes of bones often suggest other things. The lake trout or grey trout has a bone on the roof of the mouth that suggests the shape of the cross with a figure on it. One of the scientific names for that fish was Christivomer referring to the bone and its biblical reference. I often thought it would be fun to do a pictorial essay or documentary interpreting bones in ways that evoke something other than the bone itself.

The fun part of your picture is the idea that it appears to depict something other than what it really is.

Alan
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Old March 29th, 2009, 03:55 AM   #7
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Alan, that's great.
It did look rather large for a duck, and there are lots of canadian geese on the washlands, but it was bigger than them. I did think heron myself. Funny, because one of the birds I'd love to spot on the washlands is the heron, of course I'd sooner see one breathing!

I did see the ribs, but didn't think they'd be attached to that bit, thought they were seperate.

If it helps I got a photo of the other side, might give a bit extra info...

Russ
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Old March 30th, 2009, 10:18 AM   #8
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Good Morning,


I am definitely not convinced it is a keel bone of a bird!! I have killed and cleaned thousands of birds in my life and none of them have dual uniform holes in the upper or lower breast structure. also, keel bones are usually deeper and thiner than the ridge. I have seen dual hip holes in skeletons of mamals.


any way you look at it the picture is unique. would love to have it in my hands for inspection!!

We could pretend it is a dinasour and draft what we think it was in its prior life, eh??

could maie an interesting head out of it. Or a mamal running on two legs with a bird like keel.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 10:05 AM   #9
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It is a breastbone from a bird. It is possible to identify the species from breastbones. I am reading an identification guide for these bones right now, but it seems to be difficult or impossible to do it from this picture since some structures are hidden. The size of the bone, especially the length, is also important for identification.

I think it is from a diver, a goose or a duck, which have the same overall shape. It resembles mostly a white-winged scoter, a black scoter or a common eider.

Last edited by Sverker Hahn; March 31st, 2009 at 11:19 AM. Reason: Removing unimportant parts ...
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Old March 31st, 2009, 10:31 AM   #10
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Hi, Russ,

I missed your post about herons and canada geese. Well, it is not a heron, herons do not have the big "windows" you see on your picture.

Since you do not have the size of the bone, you cannot be sure that it is bigger than canada geese, can you? The only larger birds would be swans or cranes. I have pics of mute swan and tundra swan, where the "windows" are quite small. Common crane have a very different shape of the breastbone.

From just the shape of it - after consulting the guide a little more - it is a mallard.

Last edited by Sverker Hahn; March 31st, 2009 at 11:21 AM. Reason: Removing unimportant parts ...
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Old March 31st, 2009, 12:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sverker Hahn View Post
Hi, Russ,

From just the shape of it - after consulting the guide a little more - it is a mallard.
... if it's a male (of either orientation) ...
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Anyone knows what this was?-mallards.jpg  
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Old April 1st, 2009, 09:00 AM   #12
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Good morning,


Next fall I am going to have to take a lot closer look at a mallard skeleton. Obviously I need to be more observent if that is what it is!!!

Brendan, Mallards have the biggest Bachalor parties!!!
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Old April 1st, 2009, 12:16 PM   #13
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I wouldn't be suprised if it is a mallard, there are a lot of mallards on that part of the River Trent where I spend most of my time. If it is a breastbone, I bet it would be about that size.

After glancing through this

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/vi...ext=icwdmother

I think you might be right.

I wonder if it's still there? I could perhaps go and fetch it, bring it home and take some pictures!
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Old April 1st, 2009, 12:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Good morning,


Next fall I am going to have to take a lot closer look at a mallard skeleton. Obviously I need to be more observent if that is what it is!!!

Brendan, Mallards have the biggest Bachalor parties!!!
The Mallards that the Europeans imported to New Zealand, to remind them of home, foreswore bachelordom in favour of the female of the local endemic Grey Duck! They have hybridised it almost out of existance. After eight years' searching, I finally got some footage of what passes all the tests for a 100% Grey Duck last January.

I should be interested to know whether there are internal markers to the two species, such as the sternum.
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