Squirrel incisors are insanely huge
January 22, 2013
Our friends Tim and Michelle Williams moved into a local house a few months ago. In the garage, they found a jam jar containing the bones of a squirrel and the remains of its rotting flesh, dated 1985: presumably a zoologist lived in that house 28 years ago, began preparing a specimen, and moved out before finishing.
Tim was inexplicably lacking in excitement over this discovery, and passed the jar to me. I cleaned the bones (holding my nose) and am now the proud owner of a plastic tub full of tiny, tiny bones. Among the most interesting are the mandibles, and here’s why. First, I’ll show you the right mandible in medial view, with its incisor sitting in its socket as it would have done in life:
The bones were clean enough that the teeth all came out of their sockets, so here is the same mandible in the same aspect to the same scale, but with the tooth removed:
I know! It’s ridiculous! You wouldn’t think it would ever fit inside the bone of the jaw! But it does — just. Here are the tooth and the jaw juxtaposed:
So there is it: the tooth literally could not be any bigger.
Rodents: they’re not quite as dull as you think.