Friday mystery object #271

This week I have a mystery object for you from the Grant Museum of Zoology that’s either a bit too easy, or a bit mean:


If you’re not a fully paid-up bonegeek, you might like to have a bit of an additional clue; if so, click here.

Please keep your answers in the comments section cryptic, so everyone gets a chance to have a go at working it out without spoilers. Have fun!

Friday mystery object #270 answer

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

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!

Friday mystery object #269 answer

Last week I gave you this mystery object from the Grant Museum of Zoology to have a go at identifying:


If you’ve been checking the mystery object recently you’ll notice that this specimen has a feature of the palate that I made reference to in the answer to mystery object #267 – the Tasmanian Devil. It’s incompletely ossified, which is a characteristic of marsupials.

The large curved canines and pointed premolars suggest some predatory activity, while the flattened molars suggest some grinding of vegetation, making this one of the marsupial omnivores, in the Order Peramelemorphia.

The large size of the skull and the long curved canines make this specimen rather distinctive – as first spotted by Richard Lawrence, this is indeed a Continue reading

Friday mystery object #268 answer

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely festive period.

I gave you this distinctive specimen from the Grant Museum of Zoology to try your hand at identifying:


Despite being distinctive, it raised some discussion about the identification, because there are few resources available for comparison.

Phil Cox was the first to get the right Family (at least in the comments – @MelanieGbones got it on Twitter) – the Chrysochloridae or Golden Moles. Then the discussion got a bit more involved as species were discussed and the possibility of the convergent Marsupial Moles was considered.

There are 21 species of Golden Mole, all of which occur in southern Africa, which could have made this a very difficult identification to species, if it wasn’t for the large size of the skull and the very characteristic large and vertically-posteriorly flaring zygomatic arch that continues round to near the back of the skullThis narrows it down to one of two species in the genus Crysospalax

The extent of this feature in this specimen, plus the shape of the palate, suggest to me that this particular specimen is from the Continue reading

Friday mystery object #268

Merry Christmas mystery solvers!

This week I have an unusual object from the Grant Museum of Zoology for you to identify:


It’s pretty distinctive, but I’ve not seen many of these, so hopefully it’ll make an interesting object to identify. As usual, if you think you know what it is, please leave a hint or cryptic clue rather than just writing down the answer – it makes it more fun for other people that way.

Have fun!