November 2023 Natural Mystery Answered

I'll admit that I was a little worried the photo for last month’s Natural Mystery might be too subtle. Capturing a large compression in damp maple leaves with a single picture can be tricky—but Kirsten Welge, who contributed the photo, clearly pulled it off. Congratulations to Josh Waalen and Adrian Iacovino for correctly identifying both who made this impression and what direction it was facing. And an honorable mention shout out to Joan Hunn, who also correctly identified the species that left this sign.

This is an elk bed with, as Josh Waalen writes, “head to the right, and legs to the bottom, laying on its left side.”

I’ll turn it over to Adrian to walk us through his observations and interpretation:

"I notice a bean shaped impression in the middle of this image. The leaves look flattened in a croissant shape with the rounded side of the croissant facing the top of the image. The leaves outside of the bed look wet and lightly stacked on top of one another. The bean shape is widest on the left side of the image, which is indicative of the rump-side of the Elk bed. The size of the bed looks to be about ~33 inches long (measured using the ruler as scale in the photo). This looks to be Elk size."

Exactly right. As Adrian alludes, the rounded side of the “croissant” is the elk’s back. Thus it’s legs are (as Josh noted) to the bottom.

Thanks again to everyone who sent in an answer, and congratulations again to Josh, Adrian and Joan for their correct identifications of this sign.

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