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Jan 2018

Dissecting Owl Pellets

Posted On: 01/30/2018
By: Kaitlyn Deis

To introduce our study of food webs the scientists were invited to dissect owl pellets. We learned that owls hunt for food such a mice, moles and voles and generally swallow them whole! However, the owl can not digest the whole animal that it swallowed. This results in the owl regurgitating all of the undigested parts such as the fur, bones, and feathers of it’s prey, forming what we call an owl pellet. A common misconception that owl pellets are scat is simply not true, owl pellets are more similar to a hair ball of a cat.

As the scientists dissected the owl pellet they discovered many different bones and found them on our bone sorting chart. As they figured out what bone they found our lab was full of exclamations like “I found the mandible of a shrew!” and “Not another humerus!” And there was so much excitement when a skull was discovered!

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Initially the scientists were asked to hypothesize about what was inside the mysterious foil packet on their lab trays… some thought maybe a chocolate covered egg, others thought maybe a birds egg, and a few thought I had wrapped rocks…

The scientists continued to examine the specimens and hypothesize when Isaak observed a bit of hair sticking out of his foil!

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After a bit of research and discussion about what these strange balls of fur were the scientists started to dissect!

 

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As the dissection continued the scientist discovered and identified many bones.

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It was fascinating to see how tiny some of the bones were and just as surprising to find some of the larger bones!

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What an amazing day!

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