Picking through the Bones in Year 4

Our food chains and habitats project took a gruesome turn this week in Flamingo Class. Having learned about the complex links between animals, insects and plants within a habitat, Year 4 undertook an Owl Pellet dissection to discover exactly what lay inside the stomach of a master predator.

The results were quite surprising. Horrible and amazing at the same time.

Owl pellets are formed when an owl eats its prey (normally small rodents, shrews, moles or birds). The animal passes through the owls stomach into its gizzard (a tough, muscly second stomach. This stomach acts like a filter to stop indigestible bones and fur passing through. This collection of waste is then packed together and regurgitated. They can be found in forests where owls live, normally under nests.

Groups worked carefully to carry out their investigation, using skills we had learned earlier in the year. Through observation, classification and identification, children were able to find and name a range of bones found within their owl pellet.

From mouse femurs to a mole scapula, we were able to find and name them all. We were even able to observe the tiny jawbones of mice under the microscope – the molars and incisors were both clearly visible! Believe it or not, one group found 5 complete skulls inside their single owl pellet.

If one thing became clear, it was that owls are amazing predators!

Here is what a few children noticed or felt:

I liked using my hands to open it up…it was dirty work!

I found the project disgusting!

I can deduce that we had at least 3 different a

nimals because I found 5 femurs.

You would find a lot more ribs than other bones.

I was pleased that we found a complete leg.

It was fun. I learned how owls eat their food.

I know that we had two different types of animal because the jaws were different sizes and shapes.

Come into Year 4 to see our mini museum for yourself!

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