On Friday I gave you this bird skull to identify:
I thought it might prove a bit of a challenge, since it belongs to a bird that isn’t found in Europe or North America. However, the skull shape and size is quite unique and I was forgetting the impressive skills of the Zygoma readers, so it didn’t take too long for Barbara Powell, Wouter van Gestel (who I believe may be involved in SkullSite.com – one of my favourite web resources) and henstridgesj to narrow it down to the correct species.
This skull belongs to a member of the Cuculiformes, family Musophagidae (‘banana-eaters’) and to be specific it’s from a Great Blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata (Vieillot, 1816).
These West and Central African birds don’t eat bananas, feeding instead mainly on fruit, buds and invertebrates. I can’t find much information on this peculiar species, but it is interesting to note that Turacos in general have a unique green pigment in their feathers called turacoverdin. As a species they seem a bit ungainly, but really quite attractive.
Indeed Skullsite.com shows my collection (and about 80 skulls of very rare or extinct birds from museums). It’s a joined project of my cousin Jan and me, Jan does the ICT work and photography, and I do the bone work. I’m glad I found your blog, since I love mystery skull challenges! Nice to hear you appreciate my website as well, and I hope we’ll be able to make it more usefull in the next two months, when we’ll take and upload new photos.
Brilliant stuff Wouter – I find Skullsite to be a very useful resource. If you see any bird skull specimens on my blog that you need please let me know and I can send you my original photos and take measurements for you from the specimens. Of course, you would also be welcome to use material from our collections if you’re in the UK at some point.
Hi Paolo, one skull I was certainly envious about was the Corvus crassirostris, I would love to add that one to my website. Since they only live in Ethiopia, they are very hard to get. I’ll look with interest at any other skulls you may post that I don’t have, and maybe I can visit your museum the next time I’ll be in England.
I’ll drop you an email.