I’d like to begin by apologising for providing misleading information about Friday’s mystery object – I omitted a scale bar and then described the skull as being 4cm long. It goes to show how even a small amount of time can addle one’s memory, since this skull is in fact 7cm long:
I thought it would prove an easy one to identify, since it’s from a very well known species that I have talked about before – but the identification was made more difficult because it is a very young individual. This fact is clear from the lack of fusion of the bones and the lack of teeth. CopilasDenis and David Craven both spotted this and they also picked up on the fact that this skull is from a carnivore – as did ObenedO.
As to what species this skull comes from, no-one really came very close. In fact I was surprised when Jake said:
It doesn’t look catty or doggy or sheepy or deery.
since this is actually the skull of a dog Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus, 1758.
The give-away for me is the slope of the forehead, which is quite characteristically dog-like. When trying to identify the skull of a juvenile it is useful to imagine how the skull would look if it was stretched out from the muzzle, since in young animals the rostrum (or snout) is relatively very short.
This would have been a very young puppy, less than 2 weeks old since no teeth had emerged at the time of death. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this pup hadn’t been still-born, since there is no indication of the milk teeth even being close to coming through and there is some distortion of the skull that may indicate a birth defect.
Here are some healthy newborn puppies sticking out their cute little tongues to lift the mood a bit and illustrate what I mean about the forehead in dogs: