The Natural Stuff Collection

Jonathan McGowan's Natural History Collections

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My Natural History CollectionsI have decided to put many items from my natural history collection on my website for people to see, after all I do believe that these items should be on public display rather than hidden away by my selfish behaviour. Some of them are on loan to Bournemouth Natural Science Society and are on public display among the many exhibits. Most of the items shown in this category are my own but a few are exhibits from the B.N.S.S which are labelled as being thus.

Since a very young age I have been collecting items of natural history, many of which I have found myself whilst out rummaging in the hills and forests of the areas where I have lived. Many items that I have obtained within the last twenty years are bought objects from various sources. On no account have I hunted or killed any of the animals shown here. They are mostly of antique label or are from similar sources and are all legal as far as I am aware. I always try to obtain animal derivatives that predate 1947 if they are cites listed specimens; just to be on the safe side. Sometimes one cannot be sure but one thing is for sure, and that it that I would never partake in the illegal trade of endangered species or help the nasty immoral and usually illegal activities of other people who partake in such. The buying of second, third or fourth hand items of taxidermy does nothing to fuel the trade. I believe that it is immoral to throw away animal parts. They should be used as much as possible, that is the least one can do for the animals that originally owned the item. If taxidermy can educate adults and especially children to respect the word they live in then that is a very good thing and should be encouraged. That is what I do. Included in this part of my website is about half of my vast collection.

I have been fortunate enough to acquire pelts of tiger and leopard. Both skins are old and predate 1949. In India, many skins of these endangered cats were cured and shipped around the world. People still hunt and murder animals for sport or for trophies. Hunting for food or in some cases to reduce population numbers for conservation is one thing but to wholesale slaughter animals for profit is another. People still behave in such way although not like they did in colonial times. The only way to stop it is education on a grand scale about nature and conservation of all species. Every school in the world should be forced to teach such and all primary school teachers should be themselves taught to teach sound reasoning and truth. One of the biggest factors is poverty of course, and with it goes the urge to destroy our world, especially if animal parts are worth large amounts of money. China is the biggest destroyer of species; they are responsible for the demise of so many mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, yet nothing is done about it. They are advancing in technology, but not in intelligence or morality. They have eliminated the wild tiger populations and so now breed them on a mass scale solely for meat and traditional medicines. Has nobody ever told them that it does not work? There are modern, better ways of doing things. There is still a huge illegal trade in endangered species. I only purchase items that I know are old and that I am playing no part in the ongoing destruction.
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Antlers and Horns


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Roe Deer Antlers


Deer grow antlers annually, unlike horns that grow continually throughout an animals life, and shed them after a rutting season. Most deer species grow antlers during the summertime or wet season, when the most nutrients are within the plants they eat. Growing large bone appendages on ones head takes a lot of effort and so it must correspond with warmth, good food and health. Most deer species have large antlers and the larger the deer, the larger the antlers and it just happens that most large deer species inhabit the cooler or seasonal parts of the world as opposed to the tropics. Sambar and chital are exceptions.

Roe on the other hand live in northern climates and grow small antlers. They are small deer and they can afford to grow them during the winter time. In regions that are lush in green plants, the roe have larger antlers and especially in chalk districts and calcium is needed to grow bone, and as antlers are made of bone then calcium can only be good for them.

The best roe heads I have come from chalky districts. I have always loved deer especially the roe. There is more diversity within roe antlers than any other deer species. Caribou may come in second place. No roe antlers look the same. There are regional variations and a typical type within a certain region. Roe antlers also are very prone to damage.

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Dentition and Ivory


Tusks and teeth of animals.

I have always been fascinated by animal tusks and teeth. I love them and when I was a child I used to find all manner of wild animal teeth. I loved the enamel finish to them, the smooth feel, colour and hardness. Skulls were amazing, the structure of a mammal skull was detailed, awesome and when the jaws were moved up and down they had some kind of immense attraction. White glowing teeth on bone, with power and weaponry or simply eating tools were something that I had to acquire. I have possessed all kinds of wild animal skulls in the past from fish, reptiles, mammals and birds but I have narrowed down my collection to just a few of my best. I would like to share my collection with you.

The poor animals died in vain in horrible ways I suspect, and to use their parts for educational purposes, to show the beauty and usage is the least I can do for them. Also I love the artwork that man has incorporated into them. As an artist myself, I respect the time and effort put into carving hard ivory.

It is just a shame that elephants are still poached and go through so much pain and stress just because the western world insists on keeping third world countries in poverty. Poverty is the route to much evil, and tradition oriental medicines are also responsible for the destruction of wildlife throughout the earth and the extinction of many animals and plants. Who is going to stop china? Nobody? Then we can say goodbye to tigers, leopards, elephants, rhino, bears, snakes, turtles, seals, and almost all species of wildlife on Earth. China is the biggest source of illegal trade in animal parts and is responsible for terrible crime. All world nations are responsible for all manner of moral crimes against nature, but China beats them all.

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My collections of dried insects.

Many of my collections are not labelled and many are unidentified but are possibly common species. Many are recent and are not listed in CITES. Many are home reared. I have received large collections of British lepidoptera in the past, many years ago and I still have most of it. Some of my collections were destroyed by museum beetles but much has survived. My best collections fortunately have survived.

This collection comprises of a large majority of British moths and all the British butterflies. This particular collection had been collected between 1915 and 1940.

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Art in Nature


Man-made carvings in natural objects

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Fossils of animals, trace fossils, rocks and minerals

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Oddities in Nature


A variety of unusual or interesting natural history

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Inside Nature


Most people do not get the chance to see body parts of animals; the organs and inner muscle structure or the gut and its contents. Modern society has disconnected itself from the so called dirt and gore and left it to those people who work within certain trades such as butchery, fishing, taxidermy, vet nary and medical practices.

I think that we lose something if we are not in tough with nature in this way, people grow up with a warped fascination with blood and gore and seem to dwell on the only other source of material that is available; horror films with violence, and the like. People need to see the insides of animals, humans have done so for many thousands of years, it was part of us and our world, although not always with the due respect that was needed, and commonplace often led to disrespect.

The bodies of living organism are amazing; the way they work, and the beauty of the inner organs and their functions. The machine in nature is one thing but natural history has much more to other than just vivisection. One can learn about the diet of animals by looking inside them or the regurgitated pellets from birds or waste from mammals. It is all educational and ads a different yet vitally important aspect to natural history.

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Wild Food: The man who eats road killYes that is me, and I am proud to eat road killed animals.

As you may know I have been the centre of media attention lately, all over this road kill lark. Well what is the big deal? I am simply eating meat! Of course it is not the kind of meat that most folk would eat, but…. read on.

I enjoy hunting for dead animals, I at first hunted with a gun, only small scale when I was just a kid, of about sixteen, but I was against cruelty to animals even then as I knew what cruelty was about. I had suffered at the hands of nasty foster parents, I knew what pain was about, having nearly died several times, had several broken bones and been beaten and mentally tortured for years. I did not trust humans. I had an affinity with nature.

Nature did not let me down. She was there for me. I started to experiment with eating natural food when just seven years old when forced to stay outdoors for several hours at a time with no food or water. I had no choice but to drink from forest streams and try to eat acorns and ants as I was so hungry. I stole bird food, dry bread and runner beans thrown on peoples compost heaps. I spent hours walking alone through the heathland forests, in baking summer heat and cold dark winter days. I learned about the birds and mammals, reptiles and insects. I had a natural love of all things natural. These hard times only helped enhance my knowledge of the world in which I lived.

After moving away from the nasty foster parents I was placed in a lovely children’s home, where I kept many animals including wild animals as well as helping out with domestic and farm animals. I fished the river Stour and often ate the larger fish that I caught. I collected wild mushrooms, nuts and berries. I had a childhood of country living, I lived in some of the most remote and beautiful villages in Dorset. I began watching wild animals at the age of six, but when I was twelve I roamed for miles watching mammals and birds, fish and reptiles.

I did not have access to road killed animals at this time, but the next foster home where I lived, things kicked off. Living in an area where there was a main road, I often came across dead animal’s badgers, foxes, pheasants etc. I was curious and took them home, often for my pet ferrets to eat, but also noting that the meat was good, fresh and natural. I could not help but try and taste some of the food. I was not allowed to cook such food but I did behind my parents back. I got into hunting with ferrets and took rabbits which I learned to skin myself. Skinning was not enough and I needed to taste that nice looking meat. I did and I loved it.

I also was very aware of how domestic animals were kept on farms. All my friends were from farming backgrounds, or hunting and fishing families so I was surrounded by animals both dead and alive. I witnessed the terrible broiler production plants where thousands of chickens were inhumanely kept, sat on top the rotting bodies of other chickens, and I saw how cattle and pigs were kept on horrible farms. I was not squeamish and so butchering animals was normal to me.

I preserved my first badger skin at the age of sixteen and other wild mammals soon followed. When I left care at eighteen, I was free to cook what I wanted to pheasants and rabbits were normal food for me to eat. After a few years of not eating much road kill, I got into it in a bigger way. I knew animals and birds to be loving, thinking, sensitive animals just like us. I did not want to play a part in this disgraceful goings on. I chose to eat animals that were already dead. Most dead animals were not scavenged by people but some were by other wild animals. Road kill animals attracted other scavengers that often became road kill themselves. It was a viscous circle.

I was then hooked onto eating dead animals, not all of them killed on roads but drowned animals on beaches for example. Many animals get caught in fishing nets, many animals are killed by domestic cats and dogs. Many animals are poisoned or trapped and here I tread very carefully as not to be poisoned myself. I will not attempt to eat a poisoned animal that has ingested chemicals.

As far as I am concerned we all take in poisons from farm animals. Although I must admit, the farming industry has cleaned up its act over the last thirty years in a big way and it is getting better. I do not knock the farming community, but would encourage all farmers to think about good husbandry, free range stock and care over foods and inoculations and hormones. The free range organic farmers deserve a lot more than they are getting at the moment. Good are the farmers that respect all forests, marshland, wild life, and provide habitat for them to thrive.

It is so sad that so many wild animals are killed by motor vehicles. A journey of about thirty miles could provide as many dead animals of varying freshness. I may take as many as a dozen animals. Pheasants are most commonly killed birds, rabbits, squirrels and rats are the most commonly killed mammals followed by badgers and foxes. It is a wicked waste to leave them there. The skins are sometimes used in taxidermy to provide a mounted animal for adults and children to learn about nature. All manner of wild animals are killed on the roads. There is no animal that does not get killed. Collecting the bodies provides me and sometimes other conservation groups with vital knowledge and statistics. I find many ringed birds and the information goes to the BTO. Numbers of animals killed will represent a certain amount of living population and then records can be derived from the numbers found.

I have eaten all kinds of wild animal and birds. I do not see that as weird, and many other people realise that I am utilizing a by product of our nasty living, we can all try to prevent killing animals on roads by taking care. Do not speed especially at night. Roads are not just rat runs for people to go as fast as they can from A to B. Roads run through the homes of countless wild animals. That is their home and people must be aware of that. I am appalled by the lack of concern by folk when they mow over an innocent animal. The highways authorities should do more to make people aware of the problem. Advertisements on TV would be good, rather than ads for sweets and fast food.

I do not encourage people to do what I do, as there would be too much competition over dead animals and if people realized just how good they tasted then they may resort to killing wild animals. But I do encourage folk not to be brainwashed by modern living. Everything is edible except poisonous invertebrates and many plants and fungi. There are no poisonous birds or mammals. There is little health concerns with wild animals. It is a myth that all wild animals have germs and diseases. Some do such as foxes, gulls, rats, domestic pigeons but even then they can still be edible with care being taken.

As far as I am aware, I have never been ill due to eating any wild food. I have suffered from an illness for most of my adult life and that was diagnosed as fibromyalgia, a syndrome to which my own twin brother also suffers from and he has lived a different kind of lifestyle to me by not eating wild food.

If people care to take the Mickey out of me, be abusive, or ridicule me, then that’s fine. We are on a journey of self awareness. Those folk are young and have a lot to learn. They are the losers, and if and when an apocalypse happens, maybe they will be the first to succumb.

Jonathan McGowan
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Wild Food


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