It’s Friday again (huzzah!) so that means it must be time for my mystery object. This week I’m going to give you something that is being moved from the Natural History offices at the Horniman to our Study Collection Centre, where our reserve collection is housed. The delicate bony structure of this object really caught my eye and I hope you find it as interesting as I do (click on image for higher resolution):
As always, feel free to ask questions about the object or make suggestions about what you think it looks like – I’ll do my best to answer or respond, although I’m at a conference, so apologies if my answers are sporadic and perhaps a little brief. Good luck!
Is it a bird?
Yes, why yes it is!
I reckon it’s a vertical section through the head of cassowary, possibly a juvenile one.
This is based on the very foamy nature of the bone, making it lightweight and the bit on the top does look like the crest of a cassowary. Although casswaries are flightless, so I may be hoist by my own petard on this one.
Well that was exactly what I was going to go for, so you’ll not be the only one if that’s wrong.
Oh damn, I was hoping for a “no”, so I could ask “Is it a plane?”.
I’m going to guess cassowary, purely because the cross-sections through hornbills that I’ve seen don’t have the foamy texture- they have large air spaces, and the bone is much more scroll-like.
Actually I’m revising that. The sectioned hornbills I’ve seen (like this live individual) were all cut through from further forwards than this one.
I’m not gong to try for a species though.
Cassowary is good, but it’s not the right answer.
Aye, first thing i thought was cassowary.
Though i wouldn’t have thought a cassowary skull would be so delicate, more like solid bone and barbed wire…
I think the cassowary skull is a bit more robust than this, although not a huge amount of barbed wire…
Like others, my first thought was Cassowary. But that’s far too obvious for Paolo, and I think the “crest” is the wrong shape too.
The more I look at it, the more I’m convinced it isn’t a cassowary skull. In cassowaries, the crest start down the skull over the long, thin bill. This doesn’t show anything like that.
As others have said, maybe it’s a juvenile, but I’m not convinced.
I wonder if we’re all being led down the garden path by the obvious resemblance to a skull, and the obvious delicate bird-like nature of the bone?
So my questions would be:
Is it a skull?
Is it a bird?
Cassowary crests start about halfway down the bill, but this specimen has been cut before then, so we’ve only got 1/4 of the specimen. However the crest then runs along nearly the full length of the skull. So I think your right. Probably not a cassowary.
In for a penny… I’m going CORRECT ANSWER.
How do you italicise by the way?
To italicise just use http tags – an “i” between a “less-than” and “greater-than” sign brackets, followed by “/i” also between those angular brackets.
Too obvious? You’re correct!
Thank you for thinking of those of us who still think in £sd and giving a dual scale. My first thought was cassowery but I met some in Cairns and I’m not too sure … I wonder whether they’d be so fond of headbutting if their crests were so delicate. Are we thinking of the wrong medium altogether? Is this something that lives in water?
I think Cassowary crests are surprisingly delicate, but someone else may be able to confirm.
My first thought was Hornbill, don’t have a good feel for which flavor though. I’ll just take a wild stab at CORRECT GENUS something. Whatever it is I look forward to finding out, neat specimen.
Ooh – very good!
Maybe I’m mad but can I see teeth at the bottom of the picture on the far side of the specimen? Not sure if it’s a bird. Stumped!! Good mystery object Paulo.
Maybe some type of turtle or tortoise?
Turtles and tortoises don’t have teeth though. Then again neither does the specimen… Testitudinates tend to have a very dense cranial structure, rather than a light airy one.