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As we wandered through a valley in a South-German forest, we stumbled across this skeleton:

Skeleton

A few key-facts:

  • Big eyes
  • It had two sharp "ear like" bones coming out of its skull
  • The pictured remains were about 30-40cm long
    • Please mention the foot in the upper part of the image, which is ...
      • EU 45
      • GB 10,5
      • US 11,5

I don't have an idea what this might have been. Can anyone help out?


Edit:

As pointed out in the comments, the structure that is closer to the bottom end of the image could also be the pelvis bone and not the skull.

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2  
Are you sure the structure that is closer to the bottom end of the image is the skull and not the pelvis bone? Also, from the photo it looks like this part is not connected to the spine, so could it be that it doesn't belong there but was placed there only by chance (or someone making a joke of it)? – Benedikt Bauer Feb 29 at 9:57
    
@BenediktBauer Excellent thought! It also might be the pelvis bone. Never thought about that^^ Will add this to the question asap. The spine and the skull (or whatever it is) however, were connected. – OddDeer Feb 29 at 10:04
    
This is 100% a pelvis bone, not a skull. Also note that the outer (visible) ears of most animals are hold up by cartilage not bone, so there will be no remains to be found on a skeleton. – fgysin Mar 1 at 9:17
up vote 9 down vote accepted

That looks like the spine and pelvis of a raccoon: raccoon.

Although the raccoon is not native to Germany, they were introduced there in the 1930s and can be found in the wild. The map below shows raccoons killed or found dead 2001-2003. So while it's highly unlikely that you stumbled across the remains of a raccoon, it is possible. See wikipedia for more information about the raccoon in Germany. enter image description here


Since the raccoon is quite uncommon in Europe, another possible solution would be the European badger.

Check out the pelvis bone in the right-hand side of this picture:

Badger

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1  
Raccoons aren't quite common in southern Germany, but this seems to point into the right direction. A badger maybe... – Benedikt Bauer Feb 29 at 14:11
2  
@BenediktBauer Pelvis of a badger (right hand side of the image): tierschaedel.de/WebRoot/Store5/Shops/63293599/51F7/FC30/F411/… Seems to be the solution, doesn't it? – OddDeer Feb 29 at 14:51
    
Introduced? Someone decided Germany needed raccoons? – corsiKa Feb 29 at 21:09
    
@OddDeer Yeah, at least not that far away. – Benedikt Bauer Mar 1 at 9:14
    
The remains are way to big for a racoon, also for a badger. – fgysin Mar 1 at 9:26

First: it is very difficult to exactly determine the species of a skeleton, much more so a partial one (at least if you can not do DNA analysis). I have worked on archaeological digs where we consulted experts for this, and even they were clueless in many cases when it came down to identifying the origin of small sets of bones.

An educated guess:

From the size this cannot be a racoon. If the pictured remains are 30-40cm long that will put the whole spine at some 80+cm easily - waay bigger than a racoon. Actually, there are not many animals this big in German forests, which makes this somewhat easier. Guessing by the size, the form of the pelvic bone and also how common they are I would guess these remains could belong to a roe deer, potentially a young one.

Some possible alternatives (just judging by size):

  • deer, boar (possibly younger ones)
  • domesticated animal that got away and died (sheep/goat/pig/dog)
share|improve this answer
    
Hm, could still be a badger. According to Wikipedia the head-torso-length is up to 1m. – OddDeer Mar 1 at 9:45
    
It's hard to disprove. I think skeleton is still smaller and lighter than the one shown on the picture, but it's really hard to day without actually having access to the bones. – fgysin Mar 1 at 10:17

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