Friday mystery object #107


This week we have a mystery object chosen by Melita and Laura who shadowed me on Wednesday as I worked in the Horniman’s collections:

It’s another bird and given last week’s impressive identification skills I expect that several of you will get this in no time.

As usual you can leave your questions, comments and suggestions below and I’ll do my best to respond. Good luck!

30 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #107

  1. The aft position of the legs and the large (presumably webbed) feet point to a Diver or Grebe. Its large size seems to point towards a Diver and the skull looks very much like that of a Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata).

  2. I’m American Indian-we have a legend that Crane was married to Mudhen. Whenever he wanted sex, she would say, “Not tonight, I have a headache.” But then she would tell him, “Oh, but perhaps if you brought me back a certain fish (and she always wanted a fish out of season) –then perhaps I’d have sex with you.”

    Crane would shave his legs to go faster in the water. He shaved his legs so much, that’s why Crane has such skinny legs these days. To his surprise, he was able to bring back the “matola” (a type of white fish) she had requested. He rushed home all excited.

    What he did not know is that when he left home, his wife, Mudhen, would go sit on the bank of the river singing, “Washing the place that misses men,” while she would lift her skirt and expose her genitals.

    When Crane came back with his fish, he discovered Mudhen in bed with Helldiver (grebe). He was so angry, he grabbed Helldiver and shoved his head into the coals in the fireplace. This is why even today Helldiver has bright red eyes like a burning coal. Crane was so angry at his wife he kicked her so hard, her rear was shoved upwards, and that’s why even today when you see Mudhens they have such an odd waddle.

    Although in all honesty, my first reaction at seeing the skeleton was to think of a heron…but that’s another legend 🙂

    • Awesome story – thanks for sharing it!

      I can see why heron is cropping up, with that bill shape, but their legs are longer and further forward.

    • As bugsy01 says below – herons have huge legs (long-huge rather than chunky-huge). But, the bill is very similar in shape, so I can see where you’re coming from!

  3. One winter when I worked at JFK International Airport a red throated loon thinking the black ice on the runway was water landed on the runway, injured its leg and got stuck. Even if it could fly from the ground without being able to walk, it was going to starve to death in the wild without being able to use its legs to swim, so I sent it to a rehab.

  4. Actually the beak is wrong for a cormorant so I believe it is a northern diver of some description as already mentioned.

    • Actually they are quite convergent in form, except the Anhinga has more cervical vertebrae which are much longer, particularly in the distal portion of the neck, where it approaches the head.

  5. I have deduced it does not beat its wings very much, swallows its food whole, eats fish, does lots swimming is around 60 cm tall, has strong muscles above the legs and is streamlined, it couldn’t be a heron cormorant or shag (I think) could it be a black-throated diver (don’t suppose you get many 13 year olds, like me, doing your quiz).

    • Great observations Fin, although you’d be surprised at who does the quiz – Jake (see below) is 9 and he manages to get the right answer most of the time!

  6. Most likely a grebe, due to the position of the legs…I’m tempted to say it’s of the genus Podiceps. Maybe P. cristatus?

    • Very similar to a grebe – again another convergent form. However, the neck of this has fewer vertebrae and the body (in particular the sternum) is somewhat longer.

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