Friday mystery object #118 answer


On Friday I gave you this complete skeleton to identify:

As I expected, you managed to identify it in no time, with excellent use of hints and clues to get the answer across without spoiling the fun.

John the Hutch was the first to get it right (and was in fact the first to respond) with Carlos, henstridgesj, JakeHenry Gee and Julie Doyle also recognising that this was the skeleton of a Hyrax – more specifically a Rock or Cape Hyrax Procavia capensis (Pallas, 1766).

I have actually used a Hyrax for the mystery object before, although that was a skull of a juvenile specimen.

These odd little animals look a bit like rodents and they seem to have some convergent behaviours with some of the ground-squirrels, such as the use of sentries that can communicate with the ‘herd’ using quite complex vocalisations. In fact this strategy also works for other ground dwelling, sociable small mammals in open environments, such as Meerkats, which use a very similar strategy.

Despite looking a bit like a Rabbit, these animals are more closely related to Elephants. The whole of the group (Paenungulata) used to be far more diverse a few tens of millions of years ago, with a stranglehold on the herbivore niche in Africa. But fortune is fickle and the Ungulates have since pushed the Paenungulata into specialised marginal habitats.

A rock hyrax basking in the sun by Arikk

One thought on “Friday mystery object #118 answer

  1. Huzzah! But too easy for me! I was just finishing a paper including a discussion of their morphology. So I guess I cheated, sort of. But will gladly accept all karma, accolades, stuffed hyraxes etc.

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