Friday mystery object #54

The Friday mystery object for this week is a skull specimen from the Horniman collections. Some weeks ago I suggested that I put together a guide to help with identifying skulls, which I have been doing as the opportunity arises (it should be ready soon). Since this guide will hopefully make it easier for you to identify skulls I thought I should make the most of my last opportunity to get one past you. So here it is:

As usual, you can put your suggestions, questions and general musings in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to respond. Meanwhile I will be thinking of a more anthropological object for next week (in line with suggestions made last week – see I was listening).

Good luck!

53 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #54

  1. Morning!

    I have spent the last 20 minutes comparing this to other skulls and the closest match was a german shepherd. I don’t believe thats correct as the teeth were different, what looks like a crest of bone was flatter, and the bone that wraps the cheek was more curved. hmmm.

    First question then how big is this beauty?

    • The skull is 14cm (5.5 inches) long. A bit on the small side for a german shepherd and you’re right about the teeth – it’s not a canid. The sagittal crest can vary a lot within a species though, as can the zygoma (my cheek-bony namesake).

  2. As Dave Godfrey says, saggital crest is huge which suggests bone crunching jaw muscles. Combined with the big flat molars is suggests a scavenger of some kind that likes to eat bones. Hyena is perhaps too obvious, so I’m going for its cancer prone marsupial equivalent.

    • Actually, this does look remarkably similar to a Tasmanian devil skull, but the braincase extends further back and the zygoma is less massive (you can’t see it in this photo, but the skull is also narrower). So it’s not Taz.

    • Nope, I’m afraid not. Great ape skulls are much flatter in the facial region, with a much more rounded braincase (although males do often have similarly developed saggital crests that can hide that).

    • Alas, no. However, I was quite surprised at the similarity between these species, particularly considering that humans are more closely related to shrews than this species is to a Tasmanian devil. Convergent evolution is incredible.

  3. We’re considered African hunting dog, badger (various) and fossa here but none of them are right!

    Is it a mustelid of some sort?

    (Assistance from @happymouffetard today!)

    • You and @happymouffetard are looking in the right sort of places, but you’re right in saying it’s none of the ones you’ve considered. It is also not a mustelid of any sort.

  4. That’s a placental tooth pattern, that is.

    On that note, it’s not a canid, either, because I don’t see any carnassials. Actually, that’s not a particularly derived pattern at all – hello, premolars!

    What would you say if I said it might be omnivorous, or a non-Carnivoran carnivore?

  5. This is one I’m leaving for the experts, but just to say thank you for opening the #FMO earlier than usual. However I spent the morning reading @cromercrox’s novel.

    Ooops, sorry, just noticed I’m logged in on the wrong blog – this is the one I run for the photography group, sorry.

  6. The harder I look at this skull, the stranger it gets. So I am going to guess that it´s either a binturong or a giant wooden badger. But I was totally blindsided to learn that someone was actually reading my novel. Thanks … I hope you´re enjoying it! As you can see rfrom the setting I was influenced by old fashioned museums at an impressionable age.

  7. Hmmm. Tricky, given the size, the zygomatic arch and, particularly, that sagittal crest.

    But I’m going viverrid. Specifically… erm… Civet.
    Even more specifically… African Palm Civet, Nandinia binotata.

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