Friday mystery object #245

This week I have a guest mystery object for you from Dr Nick Crumpton at the NHM.

Hello Zygoma fans. Nick Crumpton here from across the way at the Natural History Museum in South Ken.

Well, this fellow completely stumped me for a few hours this week on finding it in our teaching collection:


Until, that is, I called on the always helpful advice of Mr Viscardi (OK, and a certain Mr Garrod too…)

I’d love to see whether anyone can work out what it is, and how they figured it out!

You can leave your suggestions and thoughts in the comments section below – enjoy!

12 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #245

  1. OK. And only because I am not knowledgeable so anything I say cannot be a “spoiler”…

    It appears to have carnassials.
    It may have a shorter snout than I would like to associate with the canine side of the carnivore clade.
    On consideration, maybe the snout IS actually longer than most on the feline side would have.
    And final thought… Suppose that lower jaw does not belong to the same animal as the skull + upper jaw? Forget the extra yellowing – carnassials that don’t seem to meet are pointless.

    So my know-nothing conclusion is that this is a chimera cranium – top part dog family or cat family, lower jaw quite clearly from a giant fossa or some such.

    You have been told!*

    *In [cyber]space no one can hear you scream…

  2. Considering the carnivore teeth, the state of them in the second and fourth view, and the lack of sagittal crest, I’m having a little laugh over here.

  3. From the two clever clues I’m guessing it has spots and laughs. I don’t believe a word of it, of course, and am sticking to my chimera theory.

  4. my first instinct was a type of seal but I wasn’t too convinced due too the shape of the lower jaw, also the width of the skull seemed a bit on the small size. So I’m guessing sea otter?

  5. We’re breaking out the vocab tonight people…pronounced premasseteric fossa and some unerupted carnassials! I’m going for juvenile Tremarctos. I might find it funnier except for the reduced sagittal crest. If you can’t read this you might need glasses.

  6. Well, I’m going with the spots and laughter hints. (At least I’m going with it for family: I don’t want to even try to guess particular species… though not the one that eats termites!) Lower jaw seems to be at least the right shape (rounded lower margin). Palatal view of skull looks as if there is only one molar behind the carnassial: I think that’s right for this type. (General bit of lore I’m depending on here: your basic placental has three molars on each side of the upper jaw. Dogs get down to two. Cats to one. And this is on the catty side of Carnivora.) Bit worried by the smooth top: to use a carnassial as big as the one shown, you need fairly powerful jaw muscles, so I would have expected a strong sagittal crest. But looking carefully at the side-view, the shading seems to reveal at least a bit of a s.c.

  7. Just came across this extremely fun, guessing game. This looks a lot like a mustelid to me. It is quite large, so it would have to be a WOLVERINE. The incisors are missing, which in a wolverine are quite pronounced, so gives me some doubt, as does the heavy zygomatic arch. Some wolverine have relatively unpronounced sagittal crests as seen in this specimen. I’m not completely convinced however. Wolverine or Badger would be my guesses.

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