THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY

Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

AMBER LOVE 25-DEC-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who appreciate cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, I’m an Amazon Influencer so you can shop through my personal recommendations and buy my books with these handy links below:

ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE: THE LOVELY BONES

Expand for Adventures with Gus Table of Contents

Where we left off…

THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. AFTERNOON. SOUTH HIKING TRAIL. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to get Gus to divert his attention from alive or freshly dead critters of interest. I’d say we’re about 50-50 in who spots a clue first. This chapter is about a specific clue that he originally found off-trail — a bone fragment. Back in July we found a larger section of bone but didn’t give it a closer inspection until it was broken into two pieces. We found another fragment in September.

bones
Bones found in July.
bone fragment
BONE FOUND SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

We left this latest bone where it was; and over time it was moved, but not by either of us. This time around, since the bone fragment was picked cleaned, I figured it was safe to wrap it up and take it back to the office so we can start a collection.

Bone
BONE FRAGMENT FOUND NOVEMBER

Theories:

What interested me most about this bone specimen are the clear groves from teeth tearing off every last bit of soft tissue. I’d love to ID the bite marks. I have not seen a living coyote ever roaming wild in this area. I have seen one dead on the side of the road. I felt terrible. I pulled over to look at it and it was such a magnificent creature. They definitely exist here somewhere, but I don’t think they’re common. Hunters are allowed to shoot them pretty much whenever because they’re considered a nuisance. I’m not sure if coyote teeth marks would match what’s seen here.

bone

I’m also wondering if it isn’t that local fox or kitsune needing to eat and feasted on a whitetail deer. How a tiny little fox would take down a deer, I have no idea. I personally don’t think it’s possible. However, if it was a kitsune and not a mundane fox, well that could be a whole different matter as we’ve explored before. Shapeshifting creatures with many bushy tails may come with supernatural strength too. I’m not sure. One deer seems like a lot of meals for an ordinary sized red fox. Maybe there’s more than one and they had a huge Thanksgiving party! Although that’s presumptuous. They’d have their own holidays! What am I thinking?

“White-tailed deer are preyed on by large predators such as humans, wolves, mountain lions, bears, jaguars, and coyotes.”
Dewey, T. and . 2003. “Odocoileus virginianus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 18, 2017 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Odocoileus_virginianus/

The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency does not have a fancy lab like Sherlock Holmes or new fangled IT equipment (hey, we’re lucky we have internet out here) like gas chromatographs and spectroscopes not that either of those would be useful here. Since we found this bone fragment on the ground without any digging effort, a carbon-14 test wouldn’t help either. We make due with what we have. Our lab analysis is bit antiquated. We know it’s bone made of organic material.

Bone
STABLE FRACTURE

If this were in the hills of California, I might even consider that there’s a large, wild version of Gus roaming in our yard. Mountain lions are frequently seen feeding on deer there. They do live here on the east coast too, but again, it’s such a rare sighting.

All this assumes that the bone fragment belongs to a whitetail deer as one of my go-to animal experts and kitten cuddler, Corinna Bechko believes. She works in a museum with paleontologists and does this specific work of cleaning and analyzing bones.

What if it’s not the obvious? At the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency, we’re always questioning. There’s only one public place with known skeletal remains  of Jersey Devils, Sasquatch/Yeti, or other cryptids. They’re in the Ripley’s “Believe it or Not!” Museum which I thought closed up years ago, but appears to still be an open attraction in Atlantic City. Now, realistically, some modern and prehistoric animals are weird as fuck. Their remains are in non-oddity museums. Have you seen a sloth skeleton? Y’all, it’s bizarre. Gus is curious about sloths. Ollie would be okay living with one as long as it doesn’t take his favorite things the way Gus does. I digress. This is definitely not a sloth bone in our office.

sloth
CC BY-SA 2.0
Skeleton of a Bradypus at the Osteology Museum of Oklahoma
19 March 2012

There are some intriguing images found through the internet of alleged Jersey Devil skeletons or recreations made through 3D software or printing. I like this one by Brian Richardson:

jersey devil skeleton

The Richardson model has a lot of the features normally described by witnesses of Jersey Devil sightings. Horns, wings, and bipedal horse characteristics. However, the Richardson model is just that. A model, approximately four inches tall. I’d love to see one in sizes that the demons have been noted as reaching throughout history: from dog size to horse size.

bone

Cleaning for Better Analysis:

This is a stage Gus doesn’t care about. I read through three different sets of instructions on how to clean bones found in nature. I decided to go with the non-bleach version. I put the fragment in a container of Dawn dish soap and water and let it sit overnight. I was lucky I had Dawn on hand because it’s known as the “degreaser” and that’s the whole point of this step. Bones have oils in them and the soap with help separate that out. If you’re working with a bone that still has soft tissue on it, look up the steps about that; I’ve read it can be pretty stinky.

Bone in jar
Specimen in solution of dish soap & water.

After 24 hours, the bone was scrubbed with an old toothbrush. Then it goes back into the jar with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water this time.

Bone in jar.
Specimen in solution of 50-50 water and peroxide.

There are a lot of mammals that would have long bones like the whitetail deer, besides the famed Jersey Devils. The area has a few local farms with a burro, goats, dairy cows, and horses. A bit farther away are farms for bison and alpacas. This is not the climate for the Kashmir musk deer, a badass of the deer family. It’s freaking adorable but has long fangs. It’s also endangered. I’m not sure if the Siberian musk deer is the same animal by another name or a different species. The pictures I’ve seen show those are also adorable, also with fangs. And yes, also a target of hunters.

We haven’t considered the wendigo yet. There are a couple of reasons for that. Some say that the wendigo(s) would have human-like appearance with zombie/decaying skin; basically a body that’s mid-decomposition. Sounds smelly. Others emphasize other animal traits like huge antlers, the hind leg anatomy of horses or kangaroos, elongated arms, and fangs within a deer-shaped skull. That variation seems to only differ from a Jersey Devil in that it’s lacking wings. There are way more conceptual illustrations out there for wendigo(s) than for Jersey’s famous demon.

A wendigo would be more aggressive and far more bloodthirsty than our Jersey demons. Over thousands of years, our devils have changed average size; they’ve become more intelligent; they even unionized for better interaction with humans. Those are things packs of wendigo will not do. They’re mean sons of bitches who are not interested in interacting with us.

Case status: Closed

Since there doesn’t appear to be a crime here, only natural eating behavior, the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency has closed this case.

Case update:

The bone was taken out of the peroxide solution and scrubbed with an old toothbrush.