Why was there a Sumatran tiger skull outside in Balboa Park today?
Because the skull’s flesh had been devoured by a mass of skin beetles. And those beetles (and their very hungry larvae) would be a nuisance if they escaped indoors!
Scientists from the nearby San Diego Natural History Museum were carefully preparing the Sumatran tiger skull for their collection!
The museum’s Birds and Mammals Department already contains tens of thousands of specimens. I was told preserved specimens, including this tiger skull, are very useful when it comes to comparative anatomy.
I’ve learned that Birds and Mammals Department curator Philip Unitt is the author of The Birds of San Diego County, which happens to be on my bookshelf! (It should be on yours, too.)
I noticed another critter in a nearby container waiting for the skin beetle (Dermestidae) treatment. A gray fox that was road kill in La Jolla would provide dinner for the beetles next!
Funny. I was visiting Balboa Park to check out the ongoing preparations for December Nights. Which just goes to show–you never know what you’ll discover when walking through this amazing park!
The San Diego Natural History Museum, like many other Balboa Park museums, will be open free to the public during December Nights!
Here’s the beetles’ next meal: a gray fox…
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