Friday mystery object #212

This Friday I have an odd looking object from the Horniman’s collection that had been misidentified . Do you have any idea what it might be?


I know that Jake will work out  what it is straight away, as he’s blogged about this type of bone before, nut you can put your suggestions in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to reply. Good luck!

18 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #212

      • sorry, bulla of Carinini (perching ducks) but since discovered I’m is way out of date (text I referred to was published c. 1965 – its all I had to hand and no more time) and this is now considered a paraphyletic group. But it did include the wood duck mentioned below. Lovely specimen of what ever it turns out to be!

  1. Wish I had time to go do some comparisons, but don’t so just go with what I have. I may not call it the right thing, but bird trachea, of something large like goose that makes a lot of noise is my best guess at the moment.

  2. Liliputian dutchman’s pipe! I like the concept of an auditory bulla but, I’m stymied by the elongated and ossified auditory canal. I’m willing to be persuaded toward avian syrinx/trachea however.

  3. Persuaded. After more thought, I’ve persuaded myself into going for avian syrinx. Which avian? don’t know. It just can’t be an auditory bulla.

  4. It has taken three of us, my colleagues Daniel Calleri, Sharon Housinger, and myself to review, argue, compete, and ignore our collective teaching obligations to come up with Syrinx from a male member of the genus Anas. We’d go further as to call it the, bulla tympaniformis syringealis showing a portion of the trachaea. Beautiful!

  5. I was really off on the goose. I looked at some Anas and they were close, but not as close as Aix sponsa, the wood duck. The shape was perfect. It was about 5mm smaller than the one pictured at the top though. Yours are beautifully prepared. Thanks for giving me an excuse to go look at bones!

    • Good question! I’ve not compared the bulla size between males and females, so that might be worth looking at. I suppose it may be that the male’s rasping call still utilises the bulla for amplification or that the shrill calls of the juveniles rely on the bulla and they keep it into adulthood…

      • Yeah, it’s a bit of a paradox isn’t it. Females lack a bulla altogether, so I don’t think it can have anything to do with duckling calls as I believe both sexes sound the same. I was interested in looking at the bullae of domesticated Call Ducks (which call REALLY loudly – but only the females) to see if they’re larger or better developed than wild mallards. But that’s when I discovered that only males have them.

        • I wonder if the males have call elements at a frequency that we’re not hearing? Seems unlikely given that bird hearing is generally less acute than mammal, but given that the males are partially submerged it could be a ‘water call’, felt as a vibration rather than heard as such. Bit of a stretch…

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