Friday mystery object #62


This Friday I’m returning to skulls (with thanks to Rebecca) – an easy one for those in the biology fold, but hopefully an interesting one:

I’m unlikely to be able to answer questions as regularly as usual, since there is a meeting of NatSCA at the NHM today, where I will be firmly ensconced, although I’ll answer what I can, when I can, so don’t be shy about leaving comments below – and for the biology types who might find this easy, perhaps you could have a go at guiding the less osteologically minded? Good luck!

28 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #62

  1. The zygomatic arch shows that it is a mammal.

    Very pronounced sagittal crest and nuchal crest on the back of the skull suggests a high-domed head and also a male. This species is probably mostly an herbivore that needs massive temporal muscles to grind tough vegetation.

    I have a feeling what this is but would rather have others guess what it is since Paolo probably can’t hide my answer. By the way, very smart of you to take a cranial shot, Paolo 😉

  2. Ah – I would have though massive temporal muscles imply predatory species because the orientation of the temporal muscle vector would act counter to the direction of struggling prey…at least according to classic biomechanics.

    I am not entirely sure but I think I saw a skull very similar to this one at the Grant Museum at UCL. I suspect it is a marine mammal, like a large species of seal? Interestingly, huge temporal openings can also be observed in extinct marine reptiles like some metriorhynchid crocodiles, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs…

  3. Relationship between nasals and frontals and the supraorbital process reveal the family I think – but with only dorsal view I am having a hard time distinguishing among a few closely related genera.

    What a stellar skull though!

  4. I think I’m going to have to get on board the vote with all of the other steller guesses so far. I thought it was a bit small at first, but I think I’m misjudging the scale. Will investigate further tomorrow…

    • I would love to hear the basis for your reappraisal. As I mentioned I couldn’t decide between the two but I wound up going the way I did since I couldn’t come up with a decent pun for the other!

      • Haha! Its name certainly doesn’t lend its self to any great puns. Its the nose and nasal bones that made me change my mind. On the southern they flare out a bit at the end, similar to this guy. Also where the sagittal crest starts in relation to the eye orbits. A side view would clear it all up really quickly though! What really started me thinking towards southern though is just my impressions of the skull. On the stellar they have a more domed nasal and frontal bones, where the southern is more dished. Hard to tell on just this picture, but it just doesn’t seem domed to me.

        On another note, the nasal bones do point towards it being a sea lion. true seals nasal bones form an inverted v. Sea lions form an M.

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