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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Seven: Case File No. 34-346

dinosaur skeleton in the ground stock image

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Where We Left Off:

When Oliver would stay indoors, Gus and Amber ventured outside which often involved inspections for intrusive mice.

Trail of Bones:

The Discovery:

The gnomes and fairies have been shuffled to their winter locations inside the house. We even removed their furniture to try and preserve the usefulness of the pieces. I often get to explore Gnome Grove alone if Oliver isn’t in his buggy and if Gus is busy elsewhere.

On December 5, 2023, I was able to keep my walk at a leisurely pace. Gus moved from Oliver’s patio to the garden wall to his favorite corner of the Moretti fortress looking for chipmunks and birds. Gnome Grove has views of all three spots so I was able to notice if he tried escaping over the border. Fortunately, he was fine.

black cat Gus staring up right next to a rock wall
This is how Gus spends a lot of his time.

The ground under the copse of trees is primarily covered in crushed spruce or fir cones and darkened red leaves of the Japanese maple tree. The slabs of slate dotted between the trees are impossible to keep free of the leaves because of the wind. This area had some great looking mushrooms in the fall.

Evidence Identification:

I looked around and spotted something light-colored on the ground. Assuming it was a mushroom, I got closer to take a picture. I was intrigued to find that it was another mammal bone. Gus and I had discovered two rib bones not that long ago. This specimen appears to be a spongy end with a saddle joint broken off at an epiphyseal plate line. I could be completely wrong. I couldn’t find any white-tailed deer matches on my “go to” research site, Different internet searches gave me other ideas like perhaps it’s part of a tarsal or talus of a quadruped. 

There is a lot of roadkill and not only around here where we expect it. I was driving up 287 one night and saw a gruesome scene of mashed body parts. That one was the worst and made my innards clench. There were other bodies on the roads that night. I saw another that I couldn’t even identify because I think it was only the back feet on top of a guard rail—assuming the rest of animal tried to make that jump over it with massive injuries and died right there like a pole vaulter shot in mid-air. I’ve witnessed our local animals running for their lives across this busy road. If you haven’t hit an animal while driving by the time you’re 18, it’s kind of a miracle.

Oliver in his buggy at the driveway, looking up at the camera.

We also have our regular wake of vultures that circle overhead. When they’re scouting and visiting, Gus, Ollie, and I usually only see one or two at a time. A couple of days, we had 7-8 vultures circling above us. Another interesting scavenger sighting has been the two ravens. As previously noted in a case file, we saw one either battling or befriending a hawk. I’ve spent a lot of time outside with Gus over the past seven years and never saw a raven until this winter. There is plenty of carrion for them for eat.

black vultures picking at a dead animal (pixelated)

The bone we found was definitely too big for an animal like a skunk or cat which are also frequently killed in the road. We don’t have any bobcat specimens in our collection for comparison and I’m pretty sure it would be illegal to have them anyway. I can’t believe you can’t keep parts of dead animals if they’re protected; it’s not like you’re trying to keep them as a pet. I think it’s also too big for even a large dog.

Our largest species—mundane and supernatural—are white-tailed deer, the Jersey devil-deer hybrids, black bears and volkolaks. Oh, and humans of course. Maybe we’ve come across a human bone. That seems like something that should be reported.

However, I did what I should have done in the first place and took out some of the bones from our agency’s collection. I found the exact type of bone that has a matching end. I double-checked my guess that it was tibia finding an excellent comparison on The “saddle” that I noted was for joint articulation is called “intercondylar eminence – this projects upwards on either side as the medial and lateral intercondylar tubercles,” according to this human sketch on At Kenhub, if you scroll down the page, there is a well-labeled diagram of a human tibia. Quadruped knee joints are going to be different than human ones, but the images produce enough similarities that we can reasonably make the assumption that this is part of what makes up a knee.

Yearling female white-tailed deer looking back over her shoulder.

Who was our victim?

It was time to compare this fragment to the pieces of ribs that we found on different days in the fall. Back when that case was written, we didn’t have the video footage of the coyote yet. Now we do! That adds another suspect to the scavenger list. In Case File No. 22-334, the detectives concluded that the victim was killed by a hit and run collision.

We have no victim ID. We have no suspect ID either.

What does seem likely is that this tibia fragment and the ribs came from the same body. They also have similarly sized bite marks on them.

The consumption of the carcass post-mortem would have been from a variety of animals…or could it have been the work of the Monster in the Woods?

coyote caught on trailcam at night

Case Findings:

We discovered a bone fragment in Gnome Grove and recognized it as a large mammal piece, but needed to research further. Comparing the specimen to the in-tact tibia I pulled out of the storage crate and previous evidence, there are some things to note:

  • The new evidence appears smaller, but that could be because more of it has been broken off.
  • The intercondylar eminence on the new fragment compared to the full bone from our collection is the same, 1.5 centimeters.
  • This newer fragment has distinctive marks from scavengers scraping off the meat all around it. These marks match the ribs found in September.
  • This tibia fragment is also missing the piece next to the curved notch.

Case Status: Open

Other Resources:

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