No Bones About It


With Halloween just around the corner, many people are adding spooky accessories to their front porches and homes. Some of your neighbors may include a skeleton or two in their displays.

However, when it comes to the natural world, skulls and bones aren’t just part of the décor. A skull can be used to identify an animal species. It can also tell you what it ate, how old the animal was and, in some cases, whether it was male or female. Even finding a single bone can still reveal a treasure trove of information.

  • Size comparison between gray wolf skull (left) and coyote skull (right)

So with all the wildlife in our area living in such close quarters to people, why don’t we find animal bones everywhere? Just as with living organisms, the remains of life are still very much a part of the ecosystem. Bones are rich in calcium and other minerals, so they are eagerly gnawed on by mice, squirrels, rabbits and other animals. What’s left over is then broken down by weather and bacteria, returning these valuable nutrients to the soil where they can be utilized by plants and trees. In the wild, nothing is wasted — everything is recycled in some form or fashion!

The next time you’re hiking in the park, keep an eye out for bones, and please let one of the naturalists know if you find any. We’d love to help you unlock the stories that skeletons hold!

Angela Marczi, Naturalist, Sharon Woods