Below is a “lab note” from the Jaws of Life Project on experiment.com. Access the note and support the project here.
Part of this project is gathering the funds needed to perform the necessary chemical analyses.
The other part is gathering jaw bones from far and wide (only legally, of course), so that we have a large, statistically significant, sample size.
If you have a jaw you’ve found, or some teeth, or something you think we’d be interested in, here’s how to get it to us!
How to send jaws and teeth for analysis
1) Find a jaw.
It could be of anything. It’s not your job to figure that out, but if you happen to know what it is, then all the better.
Jaw requirements: The jaw must have teeth, preferably incisors and some of the large teeth in the back. We recognize that it is difficult to know which cheek teeth are present. We’ll figure that out.
2) Take a picture of the jaw where you found it
..if you can and if you happen to have a camera. Cell phone pics are acceptable. These may be emailed to email@example.com
3) Collect the jaw or the teeth from the jaw.
In many cases, the simplest thing to do is pack up the whole jaw, but that isn’t always possible. Perhaps the animal was very large or there was just a wee bit too much flesh on the jaw. (The Post Office doesn’t like shipping stinky things.) In that case, extracting the teeth is fine, assuming you feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes the teeth loose and can just be wiggled out. Sometimes you need a hammer. In instances when you choose to ship isolated teeth, we would be grateful if you could number the teeth in the order that they were in the jaw. It doesn’t matter which end (molars or incisors) you start numbering, as long as we know what order they’re in.
4) Package the jaw or teeth for shipping.
Wrap the jaw or the isolated teeth each in toilet paper (we call it “paleo tissue” in the biz), then put everything into a ziplock bag. All this can go into an appropriately sized box or a padded envelope.
5) Provide the information below.
6) Ship the jaw and the form to us!
Send packages to Jaws of Life Project, Attn: Penny Higgins, 6606 E Townline Rd, Williamson, NY 14589
Include the following information on a separate sheet of paper with the jaws or teeth you’re shipping.
This doesn’t need to be your legal name, we’d just like to know who to thank. Make a note if you do not want us to refer to you by name in any coming blog posts or other outreach materials. We’ll happily call you an anonymous donor.
Optional – but we’ll add you to the list and send updates! Also, if we have any questions, we can contact you. We will not share this email outside of this project.
Location jaw was found:
Please describe the geographic area where you found this. Latitude and Longitude are acceptable as are verbal descriptions such as “My back yard in Manhattan,” “Grant Parish, Lousiana,” and “Uinta Basin, Utah.” Mammals move around, so within a few miles is ok.
How you found the jaw:
Was it buried? Sitting in the open? In a bird’s nest? Road kill (Hey! It’s legit! Did you know I once saw a living armadillo?)? Was it a hunting trophy your uncle has and you don’t think he’ll miss the jaw?
A description of the jaw:
Big or small? Was it broken? In a pile with other bones? You can include a sketch if you’re so inclined. Sketching is an important part of science, so give it a whirl! In case the sample gets separated from this form, a description would be helpful to get them back together! Email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anything else we need to know?
Maybe you found this in an abandoned house and you don’t know where it came from, but we can still use it for this study! Maybe you picked it up 30 years ago from a place that has since been developed or ravaged by wild fires.
If you have questions, please email us at the Jaws of Life Project: email@example.com