This Friday I’m taking the mystery object back to its roots, with unidentified specimens that I’ve found in the collections at the Horniman Museum where I am a curator. Yesterday myself and my trusty volunteer Cat came across two boxes labelled NH.83.1, which between them contain twenty unidentified skulls from a variety of different animals, ranging from fish to birds and mammals. This box had been in the collections since the 1930’s and there was little information to help make identifications – perfect material for mystery objects! Here’s one of the specimens I managed to identify – I’d like to see what you come up with…
As usual, put your observations, suggestions and questions in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to give you what information I can. Good luck!
Sideview with downsloping nose is anteater aarvarky.
But look at those teeth…
Looks a bit sheepy and a bit deery. From the side the nose bones look like a sheep. The ear bone holes point to the back like a deer. But not a red or a roe deer.
I think it eats grass, anyway.
The two spiky bits that go beside the atlas have broken.
Good observations as usual Jake – it does eat grass (although it browses on leaves too) and it is an artiodactyl (the group containing the sheep and the deer).
…and ants, birds, frogs… (I swear! Look it up!)
Good point, they eat quite a range of things, although the same can be said for many ‘herbivores’. Most things are opportunist omnivores when you look closely at their diet…
Hurrah, a scale bar! Now is that it centimetres or metres? 😉
Its a mammal. Some form of ruminant. Sheep/Deer/Antelope type thing. (Diastema, lack of upper incisors, and the shape of the teeth it has got help there).
Possibly something fairly selective in what it eats- that’s a fairly narrow jawline. Where is it from?
Metres would make it rather larger than would be likely (or indeed possible!)
It is indeed a ruminant and I expect the narrow jaw reflects a degree of specialisation due to niche segregation.
I don’t know for certain where this is from, but I have a strong inkling that it’s from Africa.
I think it looks like a female Muntjac.
It is similar – although it lacks the strong straight ridge above the orbit, it doesn’t have inflated frontals between the orbits and it lacks an ethmoid fissure… or in plain English, the head is less bumpy and it doesn’t have a hole half-way down the side of the nose.
No idea though my first thought was goat with those nostrils. However, very timely re identification: I spoke to Clive yesterday who is going to speak to Hannah and Sophie – Cat probably knows them – who are the guardians of our DNA machine. Might be a research project somewhere here.
Goat is pretty good, although not quite there. Doing some collaborative research with the skulls would be fantastic! I always feel that it’s a shame they don’t get used more than they are…
Hmmm. Not a deer, I think (the teeth don’t show a clear singulum). The ear is wrong for sheep and the sutres don’t look like a goat. It doesn’t look like a camelid. I guess some kind of African bovid.
Your reasoning is good and your guess is bang-on. Now, which African bovid…
After all, there are so few to choose from… 😉
A CORRECT ANSWER?
As for species, I’d hate to try and guess without good references, so I’ll just plump for CORRECT SPECIES NAME, the CORRECT COMMON NAME.
Excellent skills yet again!
Pretty hefty degree of luck on the specific. Only went for that as a common form.
With the plethora of clues, I am going to guess that this is a CORRECT. Perhaps a NEAR MISS (CLOSELY RELATED SPECIES)? Also a female because of the absent of horns 😀
Female is right and although you may be correct in the species I’m pretty sure it’s a different but related species.
Perchance it is ANOTHER CLOSE RELATIVE, the Maxwell’s TYPE OF BEASTIE then?
Not a Maxwell’s beastie – of that I am certain.
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