Friday mystery object #220

This week I have a rather nice skull for you to identify:


I know what this skull comes from, but I wonder if you can work out the species just from the cranium. I should warn you though, it’s not quite as easy as it looks…

Enjoy the challenge!

24 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #220

          • OK, I have pondered. It’s similarity to a domestic cat suggests to me that it’s a member of the genus Felis. We know it’s not catus or silvestris. The auditory bullae are too small for margarita. So that leaves chaus and nigripes. Of those two, chaus seems more likely as it’s more common and widespread. So on that basis, I’m guessing (and it really is little more than a guess) that what we have here is the cranium of Felis chaus, the jungle cat, but perhaps I have missed something?

  1. I would have said domestic cat, but now I look the nasal cavity is more narrow, and there is more bone between the small hole under the eye sockets and the teeth. So if it’s not a domestic cat, it won’t also be the one that’s a bit angry, since their skulls are almost identical. So maybe P.m**m****a ? No idea how big that skull is, but it’s about the same weight as a normal cat, so it’s probably about the same size. P.badia looks far too rare, and serval and P. temminckii look too big.

  2. For no good reason (and because I have no felid skills) I’m going to say it hybridizes with the domestic cat to give us the Savannah cat.

  3. Even though I find the shape of the palatal bone a little wrong (e.g. too rounded, and not squared) and the that on the specimens I checked, there is an additional “lip” at the caudal extremity of the foramen magnum, I must admit that the closest match I found, and by far, was also L.R.

  4. Wow, you’ve picked a tough one. From the highly domed skull, I’d say it’s one if the Felis. But the other characters are rather atypical. Though you mentioned it is not a domestic cat, my best guess is actually one of the past or present subspecies of Felis silvestris. Embarrassed to be a cat biologist, but eager to find out the answer!

  5. Alright then, L. rufus I think is a good choice or at least a good point in the right direction. The L. rufus specimen I have has a much more squared zygomatic arches, the postorbital processes are further apart from one another, the nasal bones have a gentler slope to them offering more of a muzzle than the mystery skull, L.rufus has longer processes on the distal-most lateral edge on the nasal bones, and L. rufus lacks the flanged crests seen on our mystery skull just superior and posterior to the auditory canal connecting with the rest of the occipital cresting. So, I think the mystery skull fits the genus Lynx but not the species L. rufus. Me thinks it fits better as Lynx lynx, the Eurasian Lynx.

  6. I must say though, F. chaus is a good one too. I didn’t go for it based on the size of the skull thinking that F. chaus would be too small to have a a 10 cm long skull. After looking at some other skulls, I think F. chaus could have a 10 cm skull. However, someone should check the bullae and the foramen magnum on both L. lynx and F. chaus. I’m not about to at this point as I must attend to evaluating my students this evening.

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