Friday mystery object #89


This week I’m going to give you something to identify from an archaeological excavation near Coulsdon in Surrey. It was associated with human remains and some clay pipes that suggest an approximate date between 1600-1850AD. Any idea what this section of mandible belonged to?

After getting the scale wrong last week I have made sure that there are scale bars in the image this time!

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

27 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #89

  1. Would this be an animal extinct in the UK (probably, bar rumoured escapees?), but on the list of contenders for reintroduction?

    • It does look a bit foxy, but it’s rather small, the angular process (the bit sticking out at the bottom of the back of the jaw, just under the articulation point) is the wrong shape and the coronoid process is narrower and at a slightly different angle. The jaw is also a bit narrower.

  2. I’m also thinking it’s probably an otter…unless it’s a young badger it looks too small, and unless it’s a very large pine marten it’s too big. The otter is really the only native mustelid of roughly the right size.

  3. I agree with others here that it’s probably some kind of mustelid. The dental formula seems consistent with incisors and canines missing, then a distinct alveolus (p1?) and three pointed premolars, one large carnassial molar (m1) and an alveolus (m2).

    so matching the dental formula for lower tooth row in some mustelids such as Eurasian otters and Eurasian badgers: incisors, 3; canine, 1; premolars, 3-4, and molars, 2

    • Excellent conclusion drawn from good, well-reasoned observation. I like the fact that you go as far as the data takes you, but no further (without additional data) – the mark of a good scientist.

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