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animal skull on forest floor

What Do We Have Here? | How To Identify Animal Skulls

Have you ever experienced finding animal skulls and bones when you went out for a hike in the mountains or woods?

Hikers often find skulls during Spring and Summer, as animals of all sorts of species die of cold and hunger during winter months.

Skulls may just seem like they’re a piece of junk buried beneath the soil, but they can tell you a lot of information about the kind of animal that the skull came from.

animal skull

Examination of skull size, eye location, teeth and other characteristics can tell you a lot about what type of animal it was.

By examining the size of the skull, as well as its teeth and the position of certain parts, you can distinguish a predator species from a prey species.

You would also be able to tell whether it walked upright or it crawled on all four legs. You can even determine what types of food the animal ate.

So, let’s take a look at some questions Below are some things to consider when trying to identify various mammal skulls.



Location Of Orbits / Eye Sockets

You can tell whether the skull you’re holding belonged to a predator species or a prey species just by looking at certain characteristics of the skull. The key characteristic that you should check is the location or position of the orbits or eye sockets in the skull. 

deer skull

Eye sockets on the sides of a animal skull would imply that it belonged to a preyed upon animal, such as a deer, which has wide peripheral vision that is helpful in watching out for potential predators.

If the orbits or eye sockets are located in front of the skull, then it’s more likely that the animal belonged to a predator species. Having eyes in front means that the animal had binocular vision. This is the kind of vision that gives them depth perception when they survey their surroundings.

Predators need depth perception to figure out the distance of their prey and catch them.



If the orbits or eye sockets are located to the sides of the skull, it’s more likely that what you have in your hands is the skull of an animal which was part of a prey species.

Having eyes to the sides of the skull means the animal had wide peripheral vision. This allows a wide range of view which helps a prey animal watch out for potential threats of any predator trying to make a sneak attack.   


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Location Of Foramen Magnum

You can also tell whether an animal walked upright or on all four legs just by looking at the position or location of its foramen magnum.

The foramen magnum is the hole in the skull through which the spine makes its entry. Based on the position of its foramen magnum, you’d be able to infer how the animal moved. 

If the foramen magnum is located under the skull or at its very bottom, this means that the animal had the ability to walk upright as humans do.



A foramen magnum hole positioned at the bottom of the skull means that the spine entered the bottom of the skull in a vertical position. This can only mean that the animal’s spine was vertical and upright most of the time when it moved. 

foramen magnum

The foramen magnum, as shown here, is where the spine enters the skull, and it’s position can give clues about whether the animal walked upright or on all fours.

Some examples of animals that can walk upright are bears, ostriches, flamingos and gorillas, among others.

If the foramen magnum is located at the back of the skull, this means that the animal most likely roamed the earth on all its four limbs and legs as foxes and dogs do.

A foramen magnum located at the back of the skull reveals that the spine’s entry was in a horizontal manner. This means that the animal’s spine was often parallel to the skull and to the ground most of the time when it moved. This is the kind of skull that most quadrupedal (four-legged) animals have. 



The Teeth

You can identify whether you’re holding the skull of an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore, based on its teeth.

vampire deer skull

Carnivores will have premolars, molars, canines and incisors, whereas herbivores will have only 2 or 3 of the four types. (skull pictured is a musk deer, also called a vampire deer).



The four major kinds of teeth are canines, premolars, incisors, and molars.

Keep in mind that herbivores have two or three of these types of teeth. On the other hand, all four kinds are found in carnivores. 

  • Premolars: These are bicuspid teeth in mammals. There are usually eight of them. They’re often arranged in pairs on the left and right side of both the upper and the lower jaws. They’re positioned in the middle of canines and molars. Their main function is to cut and grind food. 
  • Molars: These are broad, flat crowns. They’re found behind the premolars. Their primary function is to grind food. 
  • Canines: These are pointed teeth shaped like cones. They’re found in the middle of premolars and incisors. Their primary function is for piercing, and holding the prey. They can also be used as a weapon during a fight. 
  • Incisors: These have sharp edges. They’re found in the front part of the mouth. Their primary function is for cutting, nipping, or gnawing. 

There are also quite prominent differences in teeth amongst carnivores and herbivores.

Most carnivores don’t have gaps in their teeth and their teeth are pointed. On the other hand, herbivores have teeth whose surfaces appear ridged and grinding. There’s a gap with no teeth at all between their cheeks and their jaw front.




Identifying Specific Animals From Their Skull

You can identify specific types of animals just by looking at their skull, although medical researchers use medical scanning machines to detect similarities. 

If the skull you found is just about the size of the thumbnail of an adult, it’s more likely that it belongs to a shrew or a mouse.

cow skull

The size of the skull can provide information about animal type. One bigger than two clinched fists could be a cow, horse or other larger animal.

Rats and moles have skulls about the size of the index finger.

Skulls of rabbits and squirrels would have the length of a thumb.

If you find skulls about the size of two clenched fists, you might be holding the skull of either a fox or a badger. 

If you found a skull bigger in size than the combined size of your two clenched fists, then you might have found the skull of a horse, cow, deer, or sheep.



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Hedgehog Skull

Hedgehogs usually have a row of sharp teeth that are all very similar to each other.

Skulls of hedgehogs are also often found with the spine still intact and connected to the skull.



Rodent Skulls

You can identify rodent skulls by looking at their teeth. They typically have a pair of incisors which can be found in both their upper and lower jaws.

There would also be a gap between the incisors and their cheek teeth. They usually have flat and grinding teeth in their cheeks.

On the other hand, you can distinguish a squirrel skull from the skull of a rat by snout size. A squirrel would have a broader snout than that of a rat.




Mole Skull

Moles typically have a very elongated skull. The length of a mole skull would be about 30 mm. You would find tiny incisors in both jaws. There are usually no gaps behind the incisors.

The other teeth that you’ll find in moles are typically small and pointed. These are usually tightly packed. 



Weasel Skull

Weasels typically have long and flat skulls. A weasel skull which can pass through the average wedding ring.

The skulls of their males are usually larger than those of their females across their various species. Their sizes increase gradually from the stoat, mink, polecat, pine marten, and then the otter skull.

The otter skull would typically have a size of about 10 cm in length. 


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Hare and Rabbit Skull

You can distinguish a rabbit or hare skull from a rodent. Skulls of rabbits and hares typically have a second pair of small incisors. These smaller incisors are usually located in the upper jaws and behind the larger pair of incisors. 

a rabbit skull

Rabbit and hare skulls have prominent incisors, and often a second set as well.

It’s typical for both rabbits and bones to have prominently parallel cheekbones. You would also see something on their cheek teeth that look like blunt oval surfaces.

Hare skulls can also be distinguished from rabbit skulls because they’re usually larger than the latter. Hare skulls also have wide nasal passages.



How To Clean An Animal Skull

If you would like to clean the skulls you found, here are some suggestions on how you can do it:

  • Leave the skulls outside your house. Put them under a flowerpot. Leave just enough gap under the flower pot for beetles to be able to crawl into the insides of the skull.
  • You can whiten the skull by washing and wiping it with hydrogen peroxide. You don’t have to use bleach. It’s better to dilute the hydrogen peroxide a couple of times.
  • You can also lightly boil the skull in a pot containing water with a bit of sodium perborate. The liquid will act as a bleaching solution and clean up the skull nicely.

You can find more information on how to identify specific animal skulls at Boneyard Beetle Works or other similar sites.

ehd cwd dead head deer skull

You never know what you’ll find when hunting, camping or hiking. So, hopefully these tips will give you some clues! (photo credit: Brad Alan).

Conclusion

Skulls have very specific characteristics which can tell you a lot about the kind of animal they are. You’ll know by looking at certain features of the skull whether it was a predator or a prey, whether it walked upright or crawled on four legs, and whether it was a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore. 

So, next time you come across an animal skull while hiking or camping in the woods, do a little investigating and you could learn a whole lot more about what animal it once belonged to!

hiking boots at foot of mountain

Guys, Get On The Trail! | Best Hiking Boots For Men

Getting away from civilization and hiking is a fantastic way to experience the natural world.

Even hiking in concrete jungles can let you experience it in a unique way.

The most important tool necessary for making these experiences happen is your set of hiking boots.

man hiking in the mountains

There’s too much beautiful country to explore without making sure your feet are in a great set of hiking boots. Let’s check out a list of some of the best hiking boots for men!

Hiking boots are engineered to maximize the support and comfort your feet have when walking for a long time at once.

Best Hiking Boots For Men List

Normal sneakers and athletic shoes are not engineered for this type of travel, so specify your approach with a nice pair of hiking boots.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best hiking boots for men!

Merrell Moab 2

Merrell Moab 2

The Moab II by Merrell is a hiking boot that provides durability and comfort for the budget conscious.

First up is the Merrell Moab 2.

Merrell is a brand that boomed in popularity in recent years, so going with the Moab 2 is a steady choice. This is a super affordable boot that is great for those on a budget. In some cases, this boot will be half the price of a competitor.



This is a wide-fit boot, so if you have a narrow foot, this may be a bit too clunky for you.

The materials are durable and comfortable to provide a nice user experience for those who fit in them well.

There is also a low Moab model for those who do not want a higher boot.

A unique factor of the Moab is the wearability right out of the box. While many hiking boots require a few hours in them to fully break them in, Moabs are known to be very comfortable without much of that required break-in period.


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Salomon Quest 4

Salomon Quest 4 hiking boots for men

Although a bit heavy, the Salomon Quest 4 can tackle long treks with the best hiking boots in the industry.

One of the more expensive options on this list is the Salomon Quest 4.

They are built to last, so if your are a serial hiker, this may be the boot for you!

Salomon is an industry leader, and the boats by this company are top notch. The Quest 4 is for serious hikers that will tackle a lot of miles. However, if you’re just going to be taking one or two hiking trips, you might not feel you are getting your money’s worth out of these.


The Quest 4 is an overall great boot, because it is super durable and supportive of the ankle. It is a high boot that secures everything in place. They are a bit heavy, but this is also what helps them last so long.

This is a boot for long trips in rugged terrain. Even though you have to deal with that extra weight, you will be protected against the elements in a better way.


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Keen Targhee II

Keen Targhee II hiking boot for men

The Keen Targhee II gives good support to the ankle area and great waterproofing.

Similarly to Salomon, Keen is a mainstay brand in the outdoor footwear industry. Keen also makes work and leisure shoes, but the hiking boots are pillars of the brand and the market.

The overall best Keen boot for the price is the Targhee II. This is an excellent budget pair that still carries the weight of a top brand along with it.

The most common Targhee II is a mid boot, so it provides intermediate support to the ankle area. If you want an extra level of support, the mid option may not be the way to go.



This is also a waterproof hiking boot, so it adds an extra layer of protection as Keen products have great waterproofing.

Overall, the Targhee is very affordable and durable. It faults a little in rough terrain as it lacks a beefed up structure like some of the other options.

But, if you are a casual hiker, this is a great boot.


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Hoka One One Anacapa GTX

Hoka One Anacapa mens hiking boots

The Anacapa GTX is not only waterproof, but it comes in “untraditional” hiking boot colors.

One of the newer brands breaking into the scene in the West is Hoka.

Hoka is primarily a running shoes brand, but its recent offerings in the hiking space are of really good quality.

This brings us to the Anacapa.

The Anacapa is a hybrid boot in the sense that it brings the comfortability that a running shoe provides. This includes great padding and support to the heel and foot.



This is technically a “mid” boot, but it is quite high and provides really good ankle support. It is also waterproof thanks to Gore-Tex technology.

The main downside for some people is the look. This is not a traditional hiking boot and utilizes more color and an outward design.

So, if you want a little color in your hiking life, the Anacapa is an excellent option.



Timberland Chocorua Trail

Timberland Chocorua Trail Mens hiking boot

The Timberland Chocurua Trail leather hiking boot is built to last and sports waterproof leather.

Although Timberland has become a major fashion brand in recent years, thanks to their iconic yellow boots, this company still makes great hiking boots. The Chocorua Trail boot is one of the best hiking boots under Timberland’s umbrella.



This is an affordable boot that is made to last a long time. This is a leather boot, so it will take a bit longer to break in. However, the leather is waterproof, which is a nice perk.

If you are cool with hiking in these before your trip to break them in and are taking on pretty basic terrain, the Timberland Chocorua Trail is for you.


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Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex

Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex Mens hiking boot

The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex hiking boot is lightweight, waterproof and breaks in quickly.



Salomon makes another appearance with the X Ultra Mid 4. This is a modern boot that is very lightweight and waterproof, thanks to Gore-Tex. This is a synthetic boot that breaks in very quickly.

The mid height provides decent support to the ankle, but if you need something more reinforced, Salomon has plenty of high-cut options.

This option is quite a bit cheaper than the Quest 4 that is also on this list. The midsole is not as beefy and focuses on being lightweight while capable of handling a majority of the terrain.



One unique aspect of the X Ultra Mid 4 is the ActiveSupport strap that keeps your foot and laces in place while walking. This strap is attached to the boot and connects with the middle of the laces.

So, when hiking or navigating off-trail terrain, this keeps your foot in a good position and your laces tight.

Overall, if you want something lightweight but still with good backbone, the Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 is calling your name.


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Final Thoughts On Best Men’s Hiking Boots

hiker sitting overlooking lake

Even feet in great hiking boots need to take a break so the mind can soak up the beauty and vastness of creation...

Ok guys, we hope this list has provided you with some helpful information on which hiking boots you should purchase.

Be sure to consider your terrain, frequency of hiking activity and conditions of your target destination.

Now, get out there and explore!

best stoves for backpacking header image

Hot And Light! | The Best Stoves for Backpacking

Backpacking is one of the most unique ways to experience the outdoors. By accessing some of the world’s remote areas, you can certainly experience unforgettable moments outdoors.

However, backpacking is tough and requires a fair bit of knowledge and gear.

One of those important pieces of gear is… a stove.

There are many camping stoves for backpacking on the market, and you need one that is reliable and of high quality. After all, these directly affect whether you can eat hot food on the trail or not.

So, let’s take a look at best camp stoves for backpacking!

MSR PocketRocket

MSR pocketrocket backpacking stove

The PocketRocket stove from MSR is compact, structurally sound and efficient.

We will kick off the list with one of the most common backpacking stoves on the market… the MSR PocketRocket.

If you walk up to any campsite on the trail, there is a good chance they are cooking with the PocketRocket or a similar MSR model.

This is because the PocketRocket is efficient, versatile and easy to use.

As compared to other backpacking stoves of this size, this one comes in near the top. The PocketRocket is pretty compact, and has decent structure to keep the pot stable.


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It’s an overall steady camping stove and has good marks on about every subset you can apply to it.

However, one of the faults of the PocketRocket is the ignitor.

There are many reviews that say that the built-in ignitor is not reliable and does not work after a certain amount of time. So, always have a backup plan with matches or a lighter.



Jetboil Flash

jetboil flash stove for backpacking

The Jetboil stove is engineered to boil water and other liquids quickly, giving you a fast hot drink or additive to dehydrated food.

One of the newest types of backpacking stoves is the Jetboil.

Jetboil is a brand of compact and efficient camp stoves that are perfect for those who want to save space and quickly heat up food.

The Flash model specifically is one of the best, but there are other models to fit various budgets.

What makes the jetboil different is the amount you can cook and how fast it happens.

The Jetboil pot is specifically made for boiling water quickly. Then, you can apply this water to dehydrated food or whatever else you need cooked.


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Traditional camp stoves allow an open pot to sit on top to cook the food, but the entire Jetboil design is to specifically boil liquids very quickly, which is different.

The biggest drawback to the Jetboil is the amount of liquid that can be heated up at once. It is a small pot and really only serves one purpose.

So, if you want something that will make coffee or just enough water to add to a bag of dehydrated food, Jetboil is the stove for you.



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MSR WhisperLite Universal

whisper lite stove for backpacking

The WhisperLite Universal camp stove is a pricier option, but is known for quality and reliability.

MSR is making another appearance on our list with the WhisperLite Universal camp stove.

This is a pretty high-end backpacking stove, as it carries a heftier price tag than many other stove options out there.

However, MSR carries a reputation and product quality control system that guarantees a good experience for a majority of users.



The WhisperLite uses a hosed approach that puts the burner and stand right on the group and not on top of a fuel can. This adds stability and improves performance.

Going with an MSR stove with MSR fuel optimizes performance on the trail. This is important, as on longer treks it is crucial to have something reliable and steady.


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Soto WindMaster

soto windmaster camping stove

For the price-conscience backpacker, the Soto WindMaster is not only affordable but super light, weighing in at only three ounces.

Our pick for the most efficient backpacking stove for the price is the Soto Windmaster.

For what you get, the Windmaster is a very affordable backpacking stove.

When a normal backpacking stove is faced with strong wind, the light will either go out, or the flame is so altered that cooking is slowed dramatically. But, as the name implies, the Windmaster is made to work well during high winds.

The stove itself is just three ounces, which is super light. The only other weight would be the isobutane or propane bottle that screws into the bottom of the bracket.


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The brackets on the burner are not the best, but you are reducing weight, which is a plus for backpacking.

If you are trying to save a lot of weight and may be hiking in windy areas, the Soto WindMaster is for you.



BRS Ultralight Camping Burner

BRS ultralight camping stove

The BRS Ultralight Burner is certainly super light, but is often outperformed by other backpacking stoves on the market.

One of the more unique offerings is the BRS Ultralight Camping Burner.

This “stove” is not the whole setup, but rather an attachment that goes on top of a propane bottle.

This helps you save money and overall weight. However, while you might be saving money, you may also be sacrificing better performance that can be found in other backpacking stoves.

The Ultralight requires a source of fuel. This burner screws right to the top of a fuel bottle, and you can then add your pot or anything else being cooked. The attachment is not super strong, but it is just about as light as it gets.


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Solo Stove Lite

solo stove lite camping stove

The Solo Stove Lite is truly a light option because it doesn’t have a fuel source, but instead is wood burning.

Another one of the more unique stoves on the market is the Solo Stove Lite.

This is the only srove featured that is wood-fired and does not use a different source of fuel like propane.

So, if you are more of a traditionalist and want to connect with nature in a unique way, the Solo Stove Lite is a good camp stove option.



The Solo Stove is a steel cylinder that holds small pieces of wood and has air intake holes on the bottom to help you regulate temperature and steady burning.

This is a very light option, coming in at just nine ounces. Although you will save weight in your pack by not using fuel, you will need to either pack in wood or camp in areas with reliable wood sources.


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Be careful how this is used, as many places will not allow campfires because of droughts and wildfire hazards. This probably does not classify as a “campfire,” but whenever using a live flame, it is best to check with someone and make sure it is okay to do so.



Final Thoughts On Best Stoves For Backpacking

Hopefully this list has helped you make an informed decision on which stove you should make it into your backpack on your next adventure.

So, whether you are backpacking hunting or just out adventuring and enjoying God’s creation, be sure to soak up the memories and stay warm!



 

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