Last week I gave you a tricky object from the Grant Museum of Zoology to identify:
While obviously a carnivore of some sort – that much is clear from the canines and shape of the upper fourth premolar – it’s one of a type that has a large number of species and is generally not very familiar to most people.
However, despite being tricky, consensus in the comments moved towards the right family; the Viverridae. Then palfreyman1414 narrowed it down to the correct genus – Genetta.
Common Genet in Wrocław Zoo by Guérin Nicolas, 2008
Unfortunately, it was difficult to identify to species level, partly because it’s missing its auditory bullae (the rounded structures on the underside of a mammal skull that house the bones of the ear). These bullae are useful in distinguishing between the different species in this genus, of which there are many. I can’t say exactly how many, as the number of properly recognised species varies, partly due to hybridisation, but there are about 17.
Nevertheless, palfreyman1414 provided a link to a very useful resource that, with a bit of digging, provided a table of skull and tooth characters (amongst others) for identification of Genets.
Working through the visible characters described in this matrix, removing species that didn’t correspond with the mystery specimen, I was left with just the Abyssinian Genet Genetta abyssinica (Rüppel, 1836).
So many thanks to everyone (but particularly palfreyman1414) for all your help in solving this mystery – without your help I would probably have been stuck at a genus level identification for this specimen, when now I have a pretty robust species identification.
More again next week!