Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CSI Sabino Dam: Discovery

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 1/6/2013

Mark writes:
On Jan. 6, a group of us came across the carcass of a small mammal just outside a burrow in the Sabino Dam area. The skull had sharp teeth, [there were] proportionally large claws, and [the remains were] situated in the deep pile of loose tailings outside a sizable oblong burrow. We guessed it to be an immature badger. We asked Tucson mammologist Ronnie Sidner for an identification and sent her a series of six photos over three days. Each image turned out to be inconclusive in itself, but with all six, she puzzled out a conclusive identification. 
Ronnie said: 
I got to quiz myself over your specimen photographs using observation and questions, process of elimination, and then deciding what I thought the small mammal was. Then you gave me the privilege of definitely identifying it with a final bit of evidence. It was more fun (although time-consuming) to do it that way than if you'd given me [all the] photos to begin [with].
Tomorrow: The canine, zygomatic arch, eye socket ... a cat, raccoon, ringtail? Let's look at the evidence!

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