In taxidermy judging, a fatal flaw is a problem with a mount that is so serious that it eliminates it from having any chance of receiving an award. As I understand it, the judge can, at their discretion, walk away from it after saying "fatal flaw" and not even fill out the scoresheet. I have been thinking about this quite a bit recently, and when I did a search for the term I came up with all sorts of results that I didn't expect. One person suggested that using a jawset from the wrong species should be a fatal flaw. To me, that seems like a pretty serious problem but not exactly in the same category as a fatal flaw. Another person thought that it might be more along the lines of "That kind of animal NEVER does that because it CAN'T" Again, I think that would be a serious deduction (if true) but not a fatal flaw. As I understand it, a fatal flaw is a failure to meet the most basic, minimum criteria for professional taxidermy, ie: the preservation of a formerly living creature so that it is stable, free from decay, and sturdy enough to be displayed in a reasonably safe environment without falling apart or breaking. Fatal flaws, to me, are the sorts of things that would apply to ALL aspects of taxidermy, not to just one category. I think of things like catastrophic mechanical failure - in other words, parts falling off or moving due to nothing more than the kind of gentle handling that mounts should be able to withstand. Major OOPS! Another fatal flaw would be any noticeable odor of decay. Something is very wrong with a mount if any part of it smells rotten. Also, in competition, wet mounts should routinely be fatal flawed. I think every judge has seen this happen, and it is very sad to have to pass over a beautiful mount just because the competitor didn't finish it soon enough for it to be dry. Shrinkage is one of those things that we all have to batttle with, and I have known competitors who deliberately waited until the last possible minute, trying to guess that perfect moment between having a wet mount and having one that is shriveling up. Sometimes that sort of gamble might pay off, but, more often than not, it will bite them in the a$$. Or at least I think that it should. Anyway, those three things were the only ones I could come up with that, to me, would be honest-to-god fatal flaws. Competitors, judges, former judges, anybody with a professional interest --- even you gas-assers - Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of any that I've missed?