When you think about all the things that we will put humans, and even our pets through in order to make sure a bone heals properly you have to wonder if a broken bone for a wild animal is a death sentence.
These bones are the same bone (the humerus – upper arm bone) from opposite sides of the body of a cougar. During the necropsy, the researchers found shrapnel in the deformed humerus, leading them to the conclusion that the cougar had been shot at some point, the front leg was broken, and it healed, just not cleanly. On the outside, there was no indication that the cougar had such a malformation: it appeared healthy and had an appropriate amount of body fat (in other words it was well fed).
I have often joked that I wouldn’t be doing well if I was a wild animal. The injuries I get are never straightforward, and they don’t seem to heal well. However, this cougar perhaps gives me some hope. We often confuse survival of the fittest with survival of the strongest (or fastest). However, there are many other characteristics that can make one individual fitter than another. Being strategic, stealthy, sneaky, or smarter can all make one animal fitter than another. If only we could know what advantage this cougar was using.
The bones and information about the cougar are from a personal communication with a researcher who gave permission for the information to be used.