Friday mystery object #212 answer


Last Friday I gave you this odd-looking bone to identify:

mystery212

This specimen had originally been identified as an ossified inner ear, but the shape and arrangement of the ossified rings points to a different and quite familiar body part for someone who works with bird skeletons. The rounded bulb attached to the tube is a bit more interesting and potentially confusing.

The first suggestion from Anna Pike was cryptic, but very close indeed, with Jeanie and Daniel Jones also coming to the same conclusion.

This is the syrinx (or tracheal bulla) of a duck, with ossified tracheal rings in place – so basically the voicebox of a duck (or as I’ve heard Jake describe it, it’s the duck’s “quack“).

The shape and size of this specimen leads me to think it’s from a Mallard Duck Anas platyrhynchos, as it’s very similar to the one Jake has written about before. I find it interesting because it shows how bones can adapt to fulfil a variety of roles and how some very different species can solve problems in similar ways. Mainly I’m thinking about the similarities of this syrinx to the modified hyoid of the Howler Monkey that acts as a resonating chamber.

Thanks for all your thoughts – I hope you enjoyed identifying that odd bit of bone!

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