It seems that Friday’s mystery object led you on a merry chase.
Not a Crab-eating Raccoon!
This skull clearly perplexed everyone, given the number of suggestions and guesses that were made. Representatives of pretty much every major carnivore family were suggested.
Peter Harrison was the first to suggest a species from the
right genus on the label (the slightly stuck-up looking nasals are can be a good clue that you’re looking at a procyonid) and Styracosaurus Rider made a good observation about the dentition. Eventually the correct answer on the label came from henstridgesj, backed up by Rachel, Styracosaurus Rider and David – it’s allegedly a Crab-eating Raccoon Procyon cancrivorus (Cuvier, 1798) according to its museum label. I say allegedly, because on closer observation this skull specimen is clearly NOT from a Crab-eating Raccoon, but I’ll discuss this elsewhere – back to some information on P. cancivorus.
As you might expect, these animals are rather like the more familiar Raccoon Procyon lotor – they’re omnivorous despite their name, but they do have considerably larger and more robust teeth than P. lotor for dealing with shelled prey.
As with the P. lotor they also have very sensitive fingers, which they rely on for finding prey in murky water or in leaf litter.
They look similar to a standard Northern Raccoon, but because they live in the warmer climes of Central and South America they have shorter hair and a diet containing more fruit – and more crabs of course!
Since there was so much difficulty identifying this I have decided to end with a link to a very useful resource for identifying skulls – the Mammalian Crania Photographic Archive. Enjoy!