Is that you Yorick

I found this diminutive skull while working to replace a dead bolt on one of the big sliding doors which protect our bank barn from storm winds which race along the mountain tops just north of us. Part of the roof was once lost in a storm and just a few years ago the eastern wall of the structure parted company with the northern wall. In this instance the doors were open when, out of the blue (literally … it was, otherwise, a gorgeous day), a squall pressurized the barn causing a mortise and tenon joint to give way. Without the supporting eastern wall the weight of the roof threatened to drive the north and south walls outward which would have led to the collapse of the entire structure. A trip to our local hardware store (at more than the posted speed limit) and 100 feet of chain later, the walls were stabilized until a repair could be made. This was a most memorable event.

Our best guess is that the skull is that of a bat, perhaps a Little Brown (Myotis lucifugus) which is very common in our area. You may know that bats across the U.S. are currently under threat of the fungus Geomyces destructans which is the causative agent of what has been called White Nose Syndrome. WNS was first detected in 2007 and is spreading quickly across the east U.S. and Canada – it is also spreading west and has been identified in Oklahoma. The scientific community is studying WNS intensively. Although the whole story isn’t yet known, what we do know is that bats infected with Geomyces wake from hibernation much more frequently than is normal and this burns calories during a time of the year when there is no food for them; infected animals die of starvation.

In any case, I thought the skull, laying atop some very happy moss, made for a nice image.

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