nanonaturalist: Some days, you just end up wit…

nanonaturalist:

Some days, you just end up with a horse skeleton in your trunk.

June 2, 2018

@mynahmint said:

tell us about it please?

It’s actually not as exciting or interesting as you might think (or maybe it is?). A friend of mine is a Real Life Entomologist (PhD, researcher at the university, former entomology curator at the campus museum, etc). A landowner in the area lets him (and presumably other university people) do research on his property. It’s right by the river so we go mothing and herping there, and I swear every time I go, I come home with a skeleton. The first time it was a pleco skull. The second time, it was an alligator gar that he found and set aside for me.

Original posts here (pleco skull; left) [link] and here (gar skeleton; right–on facebook) [link].

This third time, he sent me photos of the horse skeletons and asked me if I wanted one. UM, YES??? The landowner has a ranch and horse stables, runs a summer camp for kids, all those fun things people with ranches and horses can do. But… horses don’t live forever. And when they die… how exactly do you deal with a dead horse

Well, when you’re a landowner in Texas, you just find an isolated patch of property, set out the horses, and let the vultures go to town. There were vulture feathers all over the area with the horse skeletons. And I had seen giant roosts of black vultures by the property before (but this is Texas, there are vultures everywhere). Some of the skeletons looked pretty old (those were the ones we ended up taking, mostly), but some of them were definitely fresher. I took the jaw of a stinky one, planning to go back for the skull later, when nature has had a little more time to take care of that.

What was really interesting to me was the semi-buried horse (top two photos in original post). Central Texas gets flash flooding basically every time it rains. And it looks like this horse had been set out right before a big rain, and the resulting flash flood buried part of the horse before it decomposed. And now, after being out for a while, you can still see the outline of the horse in the dirt around the skeleton. We just had another huge thunderstorm with flooding a couple nights ago, so no idea what the skeletons look like now.

As for the bones I took… they’re currently laying out in my back yard. The neighbors already think I’m weird, I hope they don’t think I’m a serial killer now.

June 5, 2018