Friday mystery object #270 answer

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.

Common Genet in Wrocław Zoo by Guérin Nicolas, 2008

Common Genet in Wrocław Zoo by Guérin Nicolas, 2008

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!

3 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #270 answer

  1. Wow! I did a science! I am so overwhelmed (particularly after a thirteen hour day at work with the necessity of anther four to six hours tomorrow, dagnabbit) that I am going to take my Oscar and pawn it for some booze.

    “Right now you like me! You really like me!”

    • Must add that Joe Vans and Allen Hazen were just as, to my mind, diligent and helpful as me. I would never have got onto this track without their inputs. And they clearly know a heck of a lot more about this stuff than I do.

      Also, really glad if we all genuinely helped with your identification of the species of this specimen. It’s almost as though we have laid down a marker (albeit so slight as to be almost imperceptible) in the recorded history (if that’s not a redundancy) of life…

  2. Pingback: Friday mystery object #343 answer | Zygoma

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