Stay tuned, Ms. Sarkarati

In+the+wilds+of+Altadena%2C+somebody+--+or+some+thing+--+has+been+stealing+skulls+out+of+holes.+

Diane Sarkarati

In the wilds of Altadena, somebody -- or some thing -- has been stealing skulls out of holes.

Dear Tologs,

Several years ago, a deer head appeared on campus near the junior patio. There was much student speculation that a predator might be prowling the Hill. Since we study death and bones in Forensic Science, I decided to collect the head and perform a skeletonization procedure, which I had learned years ago at a forensic science workshop. I took the head home in my road kill collection kit, a large plastic-covered container in which are gloves, plastic bags and a small shovel. This kit is always ready in the trunk of my car to collect a specimen. When I got home, I found a suitable spot in my backyard, dug a deep enough hole in the rocky dirt, put the head in the hole, shoveled in dirt and covered the hole with a large flowerpot. I shoveled in more dirt and then weighted the flowerpot down with rocks.  Skeletonization takes time, and with warm weather, I expected that the head would be fully defleshed in several months.

Weeks went by, and then months, and, finally, I was ready to collect the deer skull, hopefully completely scavenged by worms and insects. I went to my “burial ground.” I call it my burial ground, because it has been our pet cemetery since our first cat died 23 years ago. There are a total of four bodies buried there. At the burial ground, I removed the rocks and flowerpot and began to dig. And dig, and dig.

No skull. I dug deeper and wider. No skull. The rocks had not been disturbed. The flowerpot had not been disturbed. Bones do not break down or vanish into thin air.

What happened to the skull? My new project? Find that skull!

Stay tuned,

Mrs. Sarkarati, aka Saki