The Adirondack Mountains is an amazing place to witness the natural lives of wild animals. With 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there is ample opportunity to witness new life as well as the passing of life. The mountains are full of the cycle of life as we witness baby animals of various species and come upon a pile of dry bones. The cycle of life escapes no creature calling this Earth their home and there is evidence all around us of this fact. Is it possible for death, the dry bones of an expired animal to once again be a part of the building blocks of life? In the lives of some mountain animals this is most certainly possible and is an important factor in survival as a source of essential minerals.
Osteophagia, the eating of bones, can be found occurring in the lives of animals who either have a strong acidic stomach and or the jaw power to crush and consume bones. For Humans, death is a dark and disturbing subject to discuss that generates feelings of pain and loss and finality of a life once lived. For wild animals, death is a process that remains part of the living world as a contribution to the lives of creatures still walking the Earth.
A once living creature gives sustenance to insects, mammals, birds and growing plants once again taking part in the land of the living. What animals’ lives are supported by the process of death? You may be surprised to hear that porcupine gnaw on bones for mineral supplement during the Winter months when food is sparce, vultures consume bones as a main staple in their diets, and pregnant squirrels consume bones for the added minerals needed to create new life.
Bones that once were covered in flesh now barren and exposed, contain many nutrients, the most valuable being calcium and phosphorous encased in a secure structure that nourishes the flesh once more. Animals of all species contribute to a living, thriving world through life and death their value is not diminished. As a nature lover coming upon a pile of bones, at first sight can bring about feelings of sadness, remembering the once vibrant creature that no longer exists.
Why think more of their importance while living than their importance when they have expired? Does empathy and loss taint our minds keeping us from remembering life and death, each have its pertinent place? The life of an expired animal does not end with their last breath, their lives continue to nourish the World around us taking part once again in the bringing forth of life. Please don’t forget life exists in many shapes, sizes and forms and death is not excluded from this, it simply takes a different position and remains a part of the circle of life.