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!
It has strong jaws. It is too big to be anything from the UK. It looks a bit tigery but the sutures are wrong for a tiger.
Is this species extinct?
Nope – they’re still around
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 😉
The cranial shot may have misled you a bit on this one – it’s not a herbivore!
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…
Good skills – on the right track…
Is it an Australian marsupial?
Not this time!
I’m having home lunch and I’m going to make a big guess.
I once saw a leopard seal skull and I thought it looked like a lion skull:
This one doesn’t look exactly the same but it is the same size.
Very close – well spotted!
I’m thinking California Sea-Lion Skull after Manabu Sakamoto & Jake’s leads.
Is it a worm?
Yes! It’s the one from Tremors!
Actually, no, it’s really not…
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!
Yes, clearly a mammal and a carnivorous one, at that. It’s not a true seal (that is, a phocid), though, because the nostrils aren’t far enough back on the head for that. Sea lions / fur seals are a different matter, though, and I’m pretty sure that’s the group we’re looking at.
Not sure what else I can say by this point, other than… um, I agree with Neil about is being stellar 😉
I get it !
Nicely punned! Although, that’s not quite what it is…
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…
You guys are right. It is stellar indeed. I thought it was a certain primate from Africa but I’ll have to agree with Jake, jonpaulkaiser, neil and Jamie Revell.
I take it all back. I’m going to go with the southern variety.
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.
Excellent work Zigg – you’ve got it!