Friday mystery object #224 answer

Last Friday I gave you this felid skull to have a go at identifying:


The size was larger than the previous cat skulls I’ve shown you, which helped reduce the possibilities a bit – after all, there are more smaller cats than bigger ones.

As it turns out, Sam Misan and henstridgesj both managed to work out that this is the skull of a Serval Leptailurus serval (Schreber, 1776).

A Serval cat at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, by Bob, 2007

A Serval cat at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, by Bob, 2007

These long-legged cats have a relatively small head, but huge ears – and the large external auditory meatus (ear hole) with a very pronounced ridge above for attachment of the muscles of the pinna (the fleshy part of the ear) helps reflect that.

The long legs and the big ears are key to the Serval’s hunting technique in the long grasses of the African savannah, where they listen for the movement of rodents which they dramatically leap on. Probably easier to appreciate this method by seeing it:

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