Friday mystery object #59


This week I have seen an awful lot of mystery objects at work as I’ve been sorting through some of the boxes of unidentified bone with my volunteers Cat and Jahcob. Mostly we seem to have hundreds of unlabelled sheep vertebrae, but there have been some genuinely interesting objects too.

Alas, without my camera I’ve not been able to take photos of any of this miscellanea – maybe next week… However, I do have a photo of a skull, taken before the death of my camera, that I think is pretty cool (if perhaps a little obvious for some of you):

So, do you have any idea what this beastie might be?

As usual put your questions, suggestions and observations in the comments section below, which I will do my best to respond to. Good luck!

25 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #59

  1. Hmm. Again a nice big saggital crest, but the animal itself is pretty small. Those teeth look fairly undifferentiated for a mammal.

    So I reckon based on that its an “insectivore” of some sort- and possibly a big one. Its not a mole, but I’m not sure quite how else to interpret that tiny eye socket.

    • I’m starting to think its some kind of shrew. The eye looks about right for some of the skulls, but the whole thing just seems too big.

      Could the Giant Rat of Sumatra in fact be a shrew. And in your very collection? Are you sure the world is ready for this?

      • Based on the bits of everyone’s answers and a confirming google search I’ll say its a Tenrec. But I’d not have got it otherwise. Not a group I’ve seen defleshed before before. Its an impressive set of jaw muscles there, there must be some pretty hefty insects for it to eat.

  2. OOOH! It’s Friday, and that can only mean Paolo’s Mystery Object, which is the highlight of my week. But what’s this? It’s the skull of a biggish small mammal with almost no eyes. The dentition looks pretty primitive – all those undifferentiated molariform teeth. It look insectivoran – a hedgehog perhaps? No, not that. The general shape of the skull suggests edentate, but there are all those very toothy teeth. I don’t think you’re doing another koala on us. In which case I’m stumped.

    • Can you be sure it’s not the skull of a small biggish animal though? Insectivoran it is, although what that means is a bit of contentious issue with the developments in mammalian phylogeny and taxonomy in the last decade or so…

      • I’ve got it – it’s a Lesser or Herbaceous Backson. Either that, or it’s a CORRECT. Your clue about mammalian phylogeny gave it to me – CORRECT GROUP are insectivore-like creatures from Madagascar which the new-look mammalian phylogeny places in the Afrotheria along with elephants, hyraxes, aarvarks and other stuff.

  3. Clearly an ‘insectivore’, as others have said (and as you’ve confirmed). I did wonder for a while if it was a solenodon, but, especially given the comments above, I’m pretty confident it’s actually a common CORRECT ANSWER (CORRECT SPECIES).

  4. I’m not going to be able to narrow it down to species, but I believe that it’s probably a CORRECT skull. Although, judging from everyone else’s clues, I’d go for CORRECT SPECIES. Is that cheating?

    The koala was much easier! Got that straight away.

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