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Detective Work: Megan’s Missing Leg

By Simon J Jackson, on 30 October 2012

Large boxes of assorted bones, marked ‘Miscellaneous’, can be full of interesting surprises (despite inducing dread amongst curators).

Up until very recently the skeleton of a domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), which had been named Megan, was lacking its entire right forelimb. Megan is actually part of a special collection of dog skeletons mounted by their owners and named in Memorial after a loved one. It was beginning to seem that this poor specimen would spend the remainder of its days with only three legs — ‘Canis lupus tripodus’ (of course, I am jesting here). But thankfully this was not the case. Amongst one of these miscellaneous boxes, containing assorted mammalian bones (a marvellous medley including dog, sheep, horse, and shrew remains), I found Megan’s missing limb.

Megan's legs

The rediscovered right forelimb, left, and the left forelimb which was with the rest of the skeleton, right

Some sleuthing was necessary, however. A faint number marked in pencil on the inside of the right scapula corresponded to the database record representing the rest of Megan’s known skeleton. Although the other parts of the missing forelimb were not numbered (and were horribly mixed up with other miscellaneous bones), their distinct size, shape and colouration could be matched with the scapula and opposing (left) arm with the rest of the skeleton. Thus the missing limb could be returned with the rest of the skeleton. And Megan, was whole once more… (a ‘triped’ no more).

6 Responses to “Detective Work: Megan’s Missing Leg”

  • 1
    Lorna Steel wrote on 3 December 2012:

    What breed of dog? The limb looks quite robust!

  • 2
    Simon J Jackson wrote on 26 February 2013:

    hi Lorna, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. It’s actually a skeleton of an albino Pekinese dog. Yes they do have stocky limbs, and quite short snouts.

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