Merry Christmas mystery solvers!
This week I have an unusual object from the Grant Museum of Zoology for you to identify:
It’s pretty distinctive, but I’ve not seen many of these, so hopefully it’ll make an interesting object to identify. As usual, if you think you know what it is, please leave a hint or cryptic clue rather than just writing down the answer – it makes it more fun for other people that way.
I think it needs some taming, but I can’t narrow it down. And looking back at it I am less sure than I was earlier.
I’d know that skull anywhere. An appropriately festive link to one of the gifts of the Magi. And like the kings it’s good at travelling across deserts, albeit underground rather than overground.
Well… it’s not a reindeer. Even I can tell that. Needs more thought from me, or more clues from those who know what they’re talking about!
Oh and yes: Merry Crimbo all!
Golden, frankincense and mole?
was trying to make it one from above terra firma but it crashed hard and became below TF first of an Au variety from south africa and finally of a notoryous variety from a different SA where the placentas got lost.
It’s missing some teeth. I think there’s a gap in front of the rearmost molariform on the right, which would indicate that in a healthier state it would have had four molars (well, four things looking a lot like molars: the possibility that one is a molarized final premolar … complicates… things) on each side, which would indicate Afterbeast instead of Goodbeast. So right now I’m leaning toward Lee Post’s idea.
(Weird enough that if it had looked like fossil rather than modern bone I would have thought of a third SA, but I don’t really think it’s Necrolestes!)
Definitely not Necrolestes, though the snout profile in side view is vaguely reminiscent of that oddity.
Having found one photograph showing the skull of Lee Post’s nominee… I don’t think it’s that, either.
Unforgettable if one has ever seen it before, but I haven’t! I’ll think further.
This one is a puzzler! But I don’t think it is Notoryctes: teeth wrong. And on other image I’ve found of N’s skull has those massive side plates rising from the rear end of the Zygoma.
Is it maybe something that flies?
Not a flier!
Hmm, the only good picture of this species I can find on the web is of this exact specimen, including its ID number — though quite recent, not one of these photos and not taken by Paolo.
I guess that clinches it.
If your cryptic reference is to Katharina… Note the zygomatic arch.
Not having found the image that Henstridgesj found, I’m still puzzled. If it turns out that it IS Notoryctes, I have a serious complaint to make about the images I HAVE found for that taxon!
So, compare the drawing here:
There are LOTS of things to object to if this is a drawing of the species Paolo has shown us: the size of the first incisors is the one that strikes me immediately. On the other hand, the drawing has an arrow to a “base for horn sheath”, and the skull in the photo has odd depressions in more or less that location…
So… Sorry for sending so many messages! And I await EAGERLY the answer on Friday!
If the experts are to be believed (& they are) then it’s not Notoryctes and not marsupial — though once thought to be closely related to marsupials.
So only henstridgesj knows this one? Slot-Eyed Mary is a true mystery. Cannot wait for Paolo’s big “reveal”…
Surely not, as I’ve only been able to work it out from the clues left by others — unless I’ve completely misunderstood them — and then only to the family (sorry, I did mention species earlier – slip of the fingers)
Ah so. I think I have it. Saw a pic from Dave Hone’s blog. Think it’s the one (different museum though, and it was a full skeleton).
Alright. That’s it. I’ve spent a good portion of my school break not completing the myriad tasks set before me as I searched in vain to identify this lovely little skull. I’m stumped. Any clues Paolo?
The other comments have been in the right direction!
If it is a fellow southern African mammal I’m shocked that I missed this golden opportunity to ID it sooner. Never inspected a skeletal specimen myself, but have seen the ‘Family’s destructive effect in archaeological deposits.
I couldn’t wait until Friday, so– following Palfreman’s hint– I went and searched Dave Hone’s site. (Hint for following THAT lead: the specimen is in a museum in Dublin.)
As for the Metatheria/Eutheria distinction… the number of molars is one of the most often sited marks, Meta primitively having four per jaw quadrant and Eu only three. BUT: Eutheria often have molarized premolars, and you have to be a lot more experienced than I am to be able to distinguish a thoroughly molarized P4 from a molar! (Paolo, do you have any hints about how professionals distinguish these? One palaeontologist I asked said that, though he was more of a dinosaur man than a fossil mammal man, his impession was that identifying teeth in this area was more of an art than a science!)
One thing that, in my last post before giving up, inclined me to the Notoryctes guess was the odd depressions in the snout, which corresponded in location to “base for horn sheath” in a drawing of a Notoryctes skull. Assuming that this is NOT Notoryctes, but is a species with somewhat similar habits, does this one also have a horny sheath on its snouts, and are the depressions on the bones connected with this?
Finally, just for weirdness’s sake: look at the lattice openwork on the bottom of the skull, just in front of the occipital condyles!