Ice Melt

After giving a particularly unimpressive and uninspired lecture on excavation and recovery methods in forensic anthropology (read: archaeology), a student came up to me after class and handed me a stack of 6 photos (which you can click through here if you like this kind of stuff: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). This was the first one, and it looked like a skeletonized deer. I kind of thought the student wanted me to identify the species, since I've been asked that before, so I said:

Me: Looks like a deer. Wow, look at all that fur.
Student: Yeah, it was pretty cool.
Me: So did you find this somewhere?
Student: Well, my dad was driving from Cortland to Marathon, out on 11. And he was passing this little lake and decided to stop to look at it, since it was a nice weekend. He walked a little ways and saw this. He immediately drove back to get me, telling me he'd found a cool skeleton. So we went out and took pictures since it was pretty interesting.
Me: That's great! So did you leave it there?
Student: Yeah, we did. But you can go see it if you want, about halfway to Marathon on 11. And you can keep the pictures. I made copies for you.

From what I can tell, it looks like a juvenile deer. Note the extra teeth coming in at the upper half of the jaw. This state of dental eruption probably makes the fawn about 1.5 years old. Since I don't really know the rut dates of deer up here, I can't figure out when this fawn was born. But if it was killed during deer hunting season, it could very well have skeletonized during the winter under the snow. The remaining skin is puzzling, and I have no idea how it produced all that fur - it looks more like hair than what I imagine deer having. Can any hunters help me out here? The fur looks like it's exploded and is seriously creeping me out. The skull, on the other hand, is pretty cool. Poor Bambi.

At any rate, I was ecstatic that a student got her dad involved in her forensic anthropology course, decided it was really cool to go look at a dead deer, and took the initiative to photograph it and bring me pictures. It's a far cry from an apple for the teacher, but my students know me better than that.


Anonymous said…
Yeah, deer fur is actually pretty long, but it's angled backwards (or caudally hyuk hyuk hyuk). I think a fox or something pulled off the skin which is why the fur looks like it's exploded off the skeleton. I experienced the same thing with a doe I shot a year ago and tracked a day later; a fox had actually pulled off the doe's fur first and left it clumped all around the body and then ate its spleen.

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