On Friday I gave you this mystery object to identify:
Unfortunately I was unable to respond to comments on Friday, as my laptop had to go in for repairs and my phone has reached the end of its useful life as an internet device after 4 years faithful service. For the answer this week I had to drag out my old laptop, which has meant 2 hours of twiddling thumbs as the machine started up and dealt with various updates…
In some ways it was a good thing that I wasn’t able to comment, since it would have ruined the fun from the outset. Jake was straight in there, wondering if it was really as easy as it looked – and it was. Rachel, Jack Ashby and Barbara Powell also plumped for the right answer, while several others came very close when they went for a greedy relative. This is in fact the skull of a juvenile Badger Meles meles (Linnaeus, 1758).
Now I have done a Badger before, back in the early days of the Friday Mystery Object – so I apologise for the repetition. One of the things I mentioned in that old post is the fact that the mandible in Badgers tends to remain articulated with the skull and their carnassials (see Jamie Revell’s discussion about carnassial teeth here) are usually flat. These points don’t really hold for this specimen as it’s a juvenile, so the jaw articulation is not fully developed and the carnassials haven’t been worn down by regular chewing on soil-filled worms.
This is one of the reasons it’s important for museums and comparative collections to have a variety of specimens that represent different ages and sexes of animals, since there can be quite marked differences as a result of development. I will leave you with a video of Badgers in action in the wild.
I will also leave you with this atrocious assault on the senses, that Jack Ashby made reference to in one of his comments. Oh, the humanity!