On Friday I gave you this lovely skull to identify:
It seems to have been a bit more tricky than I had expected. It was immediately identified as a carnivore, which is spot-on, but from there it got a bit murky. I must admit that I could have been a bit more generous with clues, particularly when David Craven asked if this was a viverrid (the family containing the civets) – I took the question at the family level, so I said ‘no’, but I should probably have asked for clarification since this skull belongs to a member of a family that falls into the infraorder Viverroidea (according to some sources).
This is in fact the skull of a Mongoose Herpestes sp. – I wish I could be more precise about what kind of mongoose, but the only information with the specimen is the name Herpestes betongiensis, which is not a valid species and I have never encountered the name anywhere before. I assume that the species name relates to Betong in Thailand or Malaysia, so this may well be a species of mongoose from there. I will have to do more research to identify this correctly, but the Southeast Asian link may give me a good place to start looking. Herpestes brachyurus Gray, 1836 would fit in terms of distribution – but there are others from the same region and there is a need for more work to see if they are different species or subspecies and how they are related.
Perhaps I should pull together a post on carnivore skulls, to give a few pointers about what to look for in the main groups? Lots of pretty skulls…