Friday mystery object #266

This week I have an interesting, even weird, skull for you to identify:


Any idea which species it belongs to?

It’s pretty distinctive, so if you recognise it please be a bit cryptic in your comments, to let people who haven’t seen one of these before have a chance to work out what it is.

Have fun!

19 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #266

  1. Ta for this Paolo.

    As an absolute outsider in this kind of stuff, my first thoughts were, of course, about the incisors.

    Immediately thinking rodent, or lagomorph, I began to wonder what kind of species had such lower incisors that, not meeting the uppers, might somehow still keep them short. Didn’t seem possible.

    Didn’t have an answer and presumed it was just one of those things that was beyond my ken.

    Then saw all the other clues that made the identity clear.

    And it started me thinking about the other teeth. I presume those molars, and/or pre-molars are distinctive?

    Even though this creature might not have a dry nose, it is still part of the rodent + lagomorph + one other group.

    More beautifully, it is ugly, but lovely: one of the late great Douglas Adams included in his “Last chance to see”.

    And, if everybody else is right (I just follow the cleverest in these matters) then it is significant in terms of evolutionary theory and another late great: Stephen Jay Gould.

    In one of his books (“Wonderful Life”?) where he used the Burgess Shales as an example (and the initial work of Simon Conway Morris, which the latter repudiated quite forcefully in the ’90s ‘evolution wars’) he used the woodpecker as an example of the contingent nature of evolution inasmuch as it doesn’t always converge upon the same good ideas.

    That is, he claimed the woodpecker niche, and/or method, was not replicated or replicable.

    The thing is that his definition was vague, and his exclusion of this particular ghost creature kind of relied on his changing his definition…

    One of the great writers on the history of science. One of the greatest advocates of evolutionary thinking in a nation that could do with it.

    Possibly not one of the better actual theorists on the subjects though…

    AnywAy, I’m going with everybody else’s guess, and berating myself for not noting those molars and premolars….

    Not that I’ve had guessed anyway, but I might have go closer.

    Basically, you guys are too clever for me.

    Still enjoy this anyway. Ta.

  2. i’d be Mad if i had no Gas in my Car and ran into this thing at night.

    i want to post a cool link talking about this lil beast, but i’ll wait till later next wee as to not give it away. thanks to those clue above guys.

  3. I… I enjoyed the way people hinted at the identity!
    It is amazing how many mammalian clades have produced critters with enlarged incisors (one pair down and, give or take rabbits, one pair up). Even among primates (broadly construed) there have been numerous examples: if it had looked like old fossil instead of fresh bone…
    Thank you for thislong-running and very enjoyable series!

  4. I showed this critter to my son…needless to say the 8yr old immediately saw the value of such digits…including the possible velocity a removed bit of nasal protein could attain.

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