Thursday, April 3, 2014

Muskrat love comes to Wellesley, Latin style

Foiled, yet again.
I'm trotting along the Brook Path, taking in the mallards, the warm sunshine, lapping up the cool water. All is right with the world, and I even give a bye to a muskrat who is chomping some reeds by the water's edge.

But something must have stuck in my craw, muskrat-wise, because while I am perambulating between the duck pond and town hall, just past where the boys on bikes hang out while smoking something they're not supposed to, I smell it: muskrat skull.

I'm not sure I actually identify it as muskrat, or just let my animal instincts take over. Nevertheless, I scoop it up, figuring it's some tasty morsel. I have it nearly all the way down my gullet when Mom intervenes.

Image by Ryan Somma. Mom threw
my find in the direction of the boys on bikes.
It's unlikely you will remember, but I am in almost exactly the same location where I went nose-to-nose with a scorpion a couple of years back. Not too far, either, from where I proudly carried a severed rabbit head for several paces. Hypervigilant Mom notices my swift, deft move and immediately pries open my jaws.

This takes bravery. Last year, Mom lost a finger of her favorite glove and almost her whole finger when attempting to remove a very juicy chunk o'chicken, with bones, from said gullet. What can I say? Her finger was coming between me and my lunch.

I guess I am not quite as enamored of the muskrat skull, because Mom delves down, down, down, and comes up with it. It is then she identifies it as Odontra zibethicus, or the remains thereof. The teeth are a dead giveaway.

Now, Mom knows her Latin pretty well when it comes to flora, and she's ok on some fauna, too, but it takes a visit to The Evolution Store to learn that she threw away not only an Odontra and my snack, but $12. That's how much one of these things goes for (although there's one for $15.99 at the Oddities Store (who knew?). And the scorpion she let get away? The store has one of those, for $249.

The cat skeleton ($169) is appealing, but the dog? That's a little bit too Canis lupus familiaris, if you ask me. I'll stick with muskrat instead.