Friday mystery object #155 answer


On Friday I gave you this mystery skull to identify:

It’s not particularly complete, but the bill is very distinctive so most of you got the correct identification. Well done to Ric Morris, Barbara Powell, Jake, biologycurator, henstridgesj and Robin for spotting that this is the skull of a Puffin, more specifically an Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica (Linnaeus, 1758).

Atlantic Puffin by Andreas Trepte

When alive, these charismatic little Alcids (or Auks) have a brightly coloured bill which they use in sexual display. They also use their large bill to capture and carry large numbers of prey (mostly Sand Eels) that they gather using wing-propelled swimming. I would be interested to know whether that bill acts as a forward rudder when they dive – it certainly looks like it should!

Out of the water, these birds have the interesting habit of nesting in Rabbit burrows, to help defend against Skuas and Gulls that will eat their eggs and young and sometimes attack the adult Puffins. This unwanted attention may be because the Puffin is quite small and fatty, so it makes a good source of food – or it could be because Puffins look a bit like clowns, and clowns are just plain creepy.

 

2 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #155 answer

  1. A team effort for me, couldn’t have done it without everyone’s comments. Am so enjoying this community and weekly challenge!

  2. I didn’t know puffins were that small. I have three house rabbits and I love the idea of a puffin living in a rabbit burrow, although I imagine the rabbits aren’t too happy about that!

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