Friday mystery object #29


Friday again and I am ready to show you some of the stuff I have found buried deep in the stores building of the Horniman Museum as I work to identify, organise and document our osteological (that’s bone) collections. Any idea what this odd looking thing is?:

As usual answers below in the comments section and feel free to ask questions – I will do my best to respond!

19 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #29

  1. The the skull of an animal!

    Very odd looking “teeth”, they’re not proper teeth they look like bony protuberances. I don’t think it’s a mammal, I looked at turtles and tortoises but they have no snout.

    Has it lost it’s teeth?

  2. It’s bloody weird, that’s what it is.

    My first instinct was a pelvis given that I thought I saw an acetabulum and sutures between the three bones. But then I saw more sutures, and the bottom picture looks like a sagitally bissected brain case. If it is a skull, it’s one of the weirdest ones I’ve seen. Which is a long way of saying: I have absolutely no clue right now.

    Can you tell me if it has been sawn anywhere except the vertical plane in the pictures?

      • Yeah, the more I looked at it, the more I could identify the individual bones, which leaves me with more weirdness until I figured out that it’s not been bissected in half – I can’t see the foraman magnum and you’d think that’d be obvious.

        OK, here’s what I’ve got:
        – that anterior ‘protuberence’ (clearly it’s not a real one, but it appears in the picture) has also been sawn in the same plane.
        – My cranial anatomy ignorance is showing, because it took some thought to persuade myself that hole was the eye, and I’m still persuadeable the other way. Sure, it has the rounded shape of an eye, but if it is, than the animal has a very strange nose indeed and I couldn’t make out a temporal fenestra until I eyed that edge that seems to mark the top-rear margin of the eye.

        So I’m pretty sure it’s a synaspid – sorry, mammal, because it’s bone.

        But that complete orbit is rare in mammals, and I’ve no idea what to make of the long lateral ridge on the cranium. Anyway, I’ll come back to it.

  3. I’ll just sit back and watch the masterclass on this, I think. Although having established it is a mammal, could it be a marsupial I wonder? Something about is vaguely familiar …

  4. Hmm. I’m guessing that the reason no teeth have been lost is because there are no teeth in this part of the skull to lose. Did the animal originally have teeth?

    I did wonder if it was a manatee or dugong, but they don’t have complete orbits. And its not a primate.

      • Are we looking at it the right way round? Is the part Debi thinks is the braincase really the braincase? I’m wondering if the front is on the right hand side, rather than the left as people have been assuming. If so, then it looks rather like a horse.

      • And we have a correct identification! Well spotted – I was wondering how long it would take for someone to realise which way round the specimen was oriented.

        The answer has been whited out in case there’s anyone who wants to get it on their own.

  5. I’ve just realised something, I think. Are these oblique dorsal/ventral views rather that medial/lateral? If so, that ridge I’ve been flipping out about is the saggital crest.

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