23 October 2013

The business end of the limb

Posted by Callan Bentley

Last week, we had two wildlife deaths at Fort Bentley. The first was a mole (cause of death unknown), and the second was a screech owl (hit by a car).

Here’s the mole:


A look aft, at the digging apparatus:


What astonishing “paddles” it possesses! There forelimbs are easily five times the size of the hind limbs, and equipped with such extraordinary claws…


Here’s an iPad (i.e. low quality) photo of the poor owl:

Screech owl

I was particularly struck by his/her feet:


…the sharp hooks of the talons, the “grippiness” of the little knobs and bumps on the underside of the toes…


I was impressed in both cases of the tight relationship between form and function. The “business end” of these limbs allow the mole to do what moles do, and allows the owl to do what owls do.

I followed Bernd Heinrich’s lead on decomposing the critters. More on those observations/experiments at a later date.