Friday mystery object #291

Today’s mystery object is a fairly straightforward one from the Grant Museum, although I’m hoping that we’ll get a species identification for the specimen. Any idea what this is?


As usual, a nice cryptic clue would be appreciated so that we can have some fun and not give away what it is too soon for those who are developing their identification skills. Enjoy!

13 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #291

    • Breadth of skull at the back, size (or lack of) of canines, small diastema and shape of carnassials would all suggest that. Note that the jaws are not built for powerful bites and there are no huge ridges to which to attach powerful muscles. It fits.

  1. Also, as we can see from the piercings and rings in its upper jaw, this was a moccachino-drinking, possibly bearded, Hoxton resident who hates being called a hipster. And is thinking seriously of switching to sourdough bread only, and cold brewed coffee.

  2. JM– I don’t think there are enough postcanine teeth for a masked bandit or one of its musty cousins… but the other hinters seem to think it is something like them: a carnivoran on the canoid side of the order, but not a canid.
    So, at least at the subordinal level, there seems to be unanimity.

  3. Maybe slightly besides the point, but also maybe useful, my searches led me to a site called studyblue [.com], which seems to have been created and maintained by students of San Diego University, and it contains some rather lovely skull pictures, with particular focus on the undersides, highlighting the auditory bullae that Paolo keeps going on about*. I wondered if anyone else had used it and what their impressions might be? For what it’s worth, they apparently have a free app of the site.

    *The page I found, without exploring further, had some interesting perissodactyls as well as the group we are discussing here (if we are all on the same page with that, of course).

  4. Thanks for the website reference, Palfreyman! Skulls unlimited ( is another useful site: they have a page displaying several species of the … relevant bunch of mammals.

    Assuming the majority identification (which seems plausible), I’d guess it was an elderly individual who had lost its first postcanines, top and bottom, and that there would not be the apparent diastema in a younger one. (The S.U. page shows a skull at slightly larger size: the “triconodont” configuration of the post-canines, which I suspect betrays an ichthyophagous diet, is clearer in their photo than in this one.)

    (By the way: I think the Inuit word for this, or a related species, is “puisse”. Is that cryptic enough?)

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