Friday mystery object #22 answer

On Friday I presented you with a mystery object that I recently had to identify myself:

Skull length approx 30cm

The upward facing alveolus (tooth socket) for the upper canines is a dead give-away that this a male babirusa, most probably Babyrousa celebensis Deninger, 1909 – but without the tusks it is difficult to say with certainty. In comparison with another babirusa in our collection the alveolus is oriented somewhat differently and I am unsure just how diagnostic this may be, since a change in orientation is a developmental feature of maturation in male babirusas. Jim based his identification to species level on the supraorbital foramina (the little holes above the eyes to non-biology types), which I will look into as a possible diagnostic characteristic (thanks Jim), from past experience I find foramina shape and size to vary substantially within species, so I seldom even consider their potential as diagnostic tools.

I could probably talk at some length about these odd animals, but I shan’t bother because Darren Naish has done a far better job than I could hope to on his Tetrapod Zoology blog here and here. All that remains is for me to say “well done” to Jim, SmallCasserole and Debi Linton and Merry Christmas to everybody in case you don’t get a chance to check out this Friday’s Christmas mystery object!

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