Last week I gave you a tricky object from the Grant Museum of Zoology to identify:
While obviously a carnivore of some sort – that much is clear from the canines and shape of the upper fourth premolar – it’s one of a type that has a large number of species and is generally not very familiar to most people.
However, despite being tricky, consensus in the comments moved towards the right family; the Viverridae. Then palfreyman1414 narrowed it down to the correct genus – Genetta.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to identify to species level, partly because it’s missing its auditory bullae (the rounded structures on the underside of a mammal skull that house the bones of the ear). These bullae are useful in distinguishing between the different species in this genus, of which there are many. I can’t say exactly how many, as the number of properly recognised species varies, partly due to hybridisation, but there are about 17.
Nevertheless, palfreyman1414 provided a link to a very useful resource that, with a bit of digging, provided a table of skull and tooth characters (amongst others) for identification of Genets.
Working through the visible characters described in this matrix, removing species that didn’t correspond with the mystery specimen, I was left with just the Abyssinian Genet Genetta abyssinica (Rüppel, 1836).
So many thanks to everyone (but particularly palfreyman1414) for all your help in solving this mystery – without your help I would probably have been stuck at a genus level identification for this specimen, when now I have a pretty robust species identification.
More again next week!