|Library Features Skull Display|
Clifton Forge, VA (Nov. 7, 2018) - The recent celebration of Halloween and the lengthening of darkness may bring on morbid moods, but this Skullduggery display offers no âtrickery or monkey business,â as the 19th century word might imply.
âSkullduggeryâ apparently had nothing to do with skulls! So, whereâs the trick? Only in the trickiness of identifying the skulls on display at the Clifton Forge Public Library.
Local biologist and educator, Mr. Michael S. Hayslett, invites you to try your hand at skull identification. Each of the preserved wild animal skulls, from Mr. Haylettâs private collection, are numbered. The flip side of the âquizâ sheet has the answers so you can check your skull identification skills.
âEach of the skulls has a story behind it,â Mr. Hayslett says. âThese skulls remind me of past outdoor outings and adventures afield!â
"Among the 30 specimens showcased is the skullcap of a Dall Sheep which my late father, Gary âScottieâ Hayslett, harvested while hunting during our trip to Alaska back in 1991.â This piece is used to illustrate the difference between "horns vs. antlers" in the display.Â
âWell,â he continues, âthe day after I cased out the head of his ewe, I chanced upon a couple - the only other humans outside our party seen during this backcountry stay - who told me the locationÂ of a big, âdouble curlâ Dall Ram skull, at the base of a rock field someÂ five milesÂ up the valley.Â I really wanted to hike and collect that skull (to go along with the shed moose and caribou antlers that I'd salvaged off theÂ tundra), butÂ it was tooÂ close toÂ our departure time.Â That was the âone that got awayâ!â
Mr. Hayslettâs collection represents decades of his studies and travels. All of the specimens are real skulls that were either salvaged from the wild or extracted from legally-harvested animals.
Michael Hayslett returned to his hometown of Clifton Forge after pursuing advanced education and a career away from the Alleghany Highlands.Â DuringÂ that 30-plus year career as an educator and scientist,Â he worked as a wildlife biologist, park ranger, wetlands consultant, and college instructor.Â Upon his return to the area in 2014, Mr. Hayslett served as Assistant Professor of Biology at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.Â
MichaelÂ remains actively involved in natural resources conservation, research, and the natural history ofÂ ourÂ area through volunteering with theÂ Alleghany Highlands Master Naturalists, theÂ Cowpasture River Preservation Association, and theÂ Clifton ForgeÂ Parks & Trails Committee; as well asÂ part time employment throughÂ Douthat State Park, theÂ U.S. Forest Service, and his private consulting firm,Â Virginia Vernal Pools, LLC.
HeÂ continues toÂ explore the natural world and enjoysÂ sharing that passion with others.
âSkullduggery: A âGrossâ Display of Animal Skullsâ will be on display throughout the month of November.
The Clifton Forge Public Library is located at 535 Church Street.
For information on any library program, call the Library at 863-2519.