Why aren’t the woods just chock full of bones?

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When I was a kid, we used to explore the woods all the time. I came across a couple dead mice or birds in my time, but they were always recently deceased.

But tons of animals live and presumably die in the woods. Why aren’t the woods covered in deer and bear and raccoon skeletons? Where are all the bones going?

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16 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

In warm, damp environments, bacteria and fungi will attack the bones and they will crumble over the course of a few years. They also get covered by leaves and debris, which quickly turns into dirt.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Bones decompose quite rapidly, but lots of critters can *eat* bones. They are rich in calcium and fresh kills still have the bone marrow which is an incredibly rich source of protein.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Bones don’t last that long out in the elements (sun, heat, water, exposure to other organisms which digest them).

Fossilized bones are the exception, not the norm. We don’t have any dinosaur fossils at all from prehistoric rainforests. We get fossils when, for example, flash floods cover an area in a concrete-like sediment that gets buried (and thus is undisturbed by the elements) for a long time. These are often desert flood basins.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Within hours of an animal dying the insects have found it and began to eat it. Then the birds show up and scavenge. Other scavengers know that large groupings of birds means food so they will follow soon after the birds. Bones are filled with calcium and other minerals as well as marrow. Most carcasses are completely devoured within days of death. The ones that get left out will be weathered by the sun and rain and will become brittle and deteriorate. Everything is food for something

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Small bones, like from mice and birds, get trampled, buried, and occasionally eaten. Bones from larger animals usually get scattered by scavengers and buried over a larger area. Over enough time, buried bones will be broken down by bacteria and fungi.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is literally the premise of this video when talking about dead animals in general: [https://youtu.be/VU1wWQaXmRI](https://youtu.be/VU1wWQaXmRI)

Or this one that is about bones, specifically: [https://youtu.be/m8CE0qQeoTg](https://youtu.be/m8CE0qQeoTg)

it’s called osteophagia.

And some strange dad just let a deer decompose in his yard, including a time-lapse and commentary from his kids and wife: [https://youtu.be/9twFI210maw](https://youtu.be/9twFI210maw)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Mice, voles, chipmunks, porcupines and squirrels will go to town on the bones of any animal for the calcium in them. Wolves and coyotes will chew down the megafauna (deer, moose, elk) bones as well.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I mean you happen upon bits and bobs of dead animals in the woods sometimes, or in your yard, if you live near the woods. I would say it was simple happenstance you didn’t run across more or you didn’t live in the wildest or most rich forest? I lived right up against the ass of a National Forest in a tiny little town and occasionally found stuff or my great uncle who wandered around in the woods did.

Before he died last year he found probably hundreds at least of deer antlers and stuff he would just pick up and carry home and hang up or make into knife handles. Who knows how many he didn’t like or didn’t suit him that day. He probably also ran across a lot of other stuff he didn’t mention.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A long time ago, I had a greyhound. One time as a treat I bought him a pork neck bone. Big old thing, bigger than a softball, with a little bit of meat on it. I gave it to him in the backyard, figured he would slowly gnaw the meat off of it for a while.

Nope, 10 minutes or so later, it was all gone.

Animals have very strong jaws and animal bones are delicious and nutritious.