Friday mystery object #285 answer

Last week I gave you this unassuming bit of bone, that I found with no identification in the Grant Museum of Zoology stores:


Daniel Jones and Daniel Calleri identified the element as a radius, but beyond that there was a general feeling that identification of species was a bit on the tricky side. Palfreyman1414 pointed out that it’s something approximately human sized, with Lena ruling out an ungulate, suggesting that it could be from a carnivore or possibly a marsupial.

I must admit that my mind immediately went to carnivores and I initially thought it could be from a Black Bear, since it’s fairly robust and about the right length. However, after checking the ever helpful Adams & Crabtree book I realised that bears are even more chunky than this.

It didn’t look right for a dog since they are straighter, have a flatter profile and a narrower distal end. However, it did look right for a big cat and I’m fairly certain that it’s from a Leopard Panther pardus (Linnaeus, 1758). If you want to compare a Leopard with a Dog radius you can see them compared in this paper, along with a good description of the bones of the Leopard forearm.

A bit of a tricky challenge – so next time I may try to do something a bit more distinctive!

2 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #285 answer

  1. Thanks! I didn’t even TRY to guess (hey, I’m an amateur!), but looking at the answer (and skimming the paper you link to) I find it very instructive. Dogs are pursuit predators, with design optimized for running. Cats are ambush predators, who do a lot more different things with their forelimbs (like, as the paper notes, climbing and prey-killing). So OF COURSE the cat elements will be less straight. And the radius will be more dominant (the ulna comparatively reduced) in the dog.
    You don’t happen to have forelimb elements from a Cheetah in your closet to compare with Leopard and Dog, do you?

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