Friday mystery object #77


After a few weeks away from the Horniman’s store, I’m finally back amongst the collections and working with the skulls. That means that this week I can give you a nice mammal skull to identify:

Any idea what this skull belonged to?

As usual you can put your questions, observations and suggestions in the comments section below. Good luck!

30 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #77

    • Interestingly, I found a Musk rat skull in the collection recently that looked like it had two pairs of upper incisors, but it was just an illusion created by a sharp wear boundary between the enamel and dentine of the first incisor.

    • The incisor teeth look too small for that, to my mind. Mole rats have pretty large incisors for chiselling their way through the soil.

  1. It looks kind of like a squirrel – but, comments about musk rats aside, this certainly does look to have two pairs of upper incisors (possibly two pairs of lower incisors, as well, unless that’s just the angle), which means it can’t be a rodent. If it’s an adult – and it looks to be – it’s too small for a lagomorph, which leads me to the conclusion that it may well be a marsupial of some kind.

    As to what kind, I’m really not sure. It would obviously have to be one of the small ones, something along the lines of a pygmy possum (although, so far as I can tell, it’s not actually one of those). One of the little diprotodonts, at any rate.

    • Funnily enough, I thought it looked like a squirrel too, I even compared it to the skull of a red squirrel and they were remarkably similar, except for the incisors and the nasal bones, which are quite different.

  2. Is it a small cuscus of some kind? I agree with the general consensus here that it appears to be a marsupial, and that’s the only group I can think of with the right general skull shape and size.

    • It’s not a small Cuscus (or Phalanger) – although shape is similar, they have a clearly visible canine tooth at the premaxilla-maxilla junction.

  3. I still think it’s a lagomorph not a rodent because of the teeth.

    But if Paolo thought it might be a squirrel there must be no peg teeth and the teeth must just look funny in that picture. So it might be a rodent too.

      • If it’s not a pika and not a rabbit and not a hare I don’t think it can be a lagomorph. Is there another type of animal with peg teeth ?

      • I don’t think anyone mentioned hares until you just did! It’s not a hare though…

        I can’t think of anything else with peg teeth – it’s a lagomorph trait. It might be worth taking a careful look back through my comments…

  4. Or perhaps an American jack rabbit of small stature? That’s the only lagomorph I can think of that’s not been mentioned!

  5. re: Guinea pig? My guinea pig has grown a peg tooth at upper incisors. Seems odd but it is confirmed as a rare occurence in the literature I have accessed.

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