roachpatrolreplied to yourpost:MOTHERFUCKER A SQUIRREL STOLE THE BILL OFF MY DUCK…
"what a weird walnut" that squirrel probably thought.
OK no but here is the best bit THE SQUIRREL TOTALLY KNEW IT WASN’T A WALNUT AND SPECIFICALLY TARGETED IT BECAUSE IT WAS BONE.
Allow me to explain because this is one of my favorite things to come out of forensic taphonomy in the past decade.
Rodents—including squirrels—freaking love chowing down on some dry bone,especially if there’s a ridge or the edge of a socket or whatever that they can fit their mouths around. If they find one that they really enjoy laying around somewhere they can gnaw on it so much that the original shape is almost completely unrecognizable:
See the holes in the middle there? That’s where they chewed so far through the cortical bone that they perforated into the medullary/marrow cavity.
Look at those adorable little tooth marks.
They chew on bone mainly to get at the minerals within it. Which leads to the next coolest bit: theyonlylike dry bone. You can get some incidental tooth marks from rats trying to peel the last slivers of soft tissue from exposed joints and dogs and other scavengers will chew on the ends of fresher bones and crack into the shafts of long bones trying to get at the remaining marrow, but squirrels aren’t interested until the bone has been exposed to the elements for at least a year or even up tothreeyears, if it’s in a shaded location. Rodent gnawing had been noted on bones for forever, but the realization that rodents avoid chewing on green bone is much more recent (Klippel and Synstelien 2007; great paper if you can access it through academic sources, if not googling rodent gnawing on bone will pull up lots more pictures and explanations), and withthatdiscovery is the implication that you can use rodent gnawing to mark how long remains have been laying out in the open. No rodent gnawing, either they’ve been protected in some way or they’ve been out there for around 15 months or less.
So when my squirrel thief scampered off with my duck’s bill he was more likely thinking “Aw sweet, free duck skull! Aged just the way I like it!”
Ok, but you said “bill”, so I was just imagining that to mean the keratin sheath over the beak. So where that’s protein, that’s way different than stealing it and using it later for the calcium. That makes more sense. Lots of animals do that.