Friday mystery object #292 answer(ish)


Last week I gave you a final mystery object from the Grant Museum of Zoology to help me identify:

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Part of the reason for that was because I knew I’d be starting my new job in Dublin where there is a great collection of comparative bird osteology that I thought I’d get a chance to look at in time to write this post.

Alas, I’ve had a whirlwind first week at Dublin’s Dead Zoo and although I’ve managed to take a look at a few sterna, I’ve not had much time to really think about them or consider the identification. I’ve also had limited opportunity to follow up on everyone’s very useful suggestions, although I have tried to use them as a guide to narrow down my perusal of the comparative collections.

However, I did get a chance to take some quick snaps of a range of bird sterna with my phone, so I’m going to provide you with a veritable feast of breast bones to compare the mystery specimen against:

You can click on each image to see a large version – hopefully this will prove useful for future identifications!

None of them quite match the combination of having perforations near the straight and truncated bottom of the mystery specimen, which sports a broad triangular flattening of the lower portion of the carina or keel. This may be a feature of the particular individual, or it might be diagnostic – herein lie the problem with using strongly functional features for identification, as a juvenile or zoo specimen may have differences due to developmental progress of lack of use of a feature. To illustrate, this keel from a Griffon Vulture from the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland shows a significant asymmetry (although it’s hard to see the deformation in the image due to the shadow – I’ll see if I can get a better image):

Griffon Vulture sternum

Griffon Vulture sternum

It’s also worth noting that the Grant specimen has had the top of the sternum cut off, so the overall shape is a little misleading. From comparing the sterna of a variety of bird groups I’m in agreement with the emerging group consensus that this is probably from a pretty large bird of prey.

Thanks for your input on this – I will check some more next week when I have a zooarchaeologist looking at the comparative bird collection and I’ll get the chance to dig out some more material.

Cheers!

5 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #292 answer(ish)

  1. Wow – thank you for the photos! You must be busy, so it’s very kind of you to take the time to post the pictures! I do like the March Harrier, the shape and general size seems to match the most. One thing I love about this blog is that it opens all sorts of other questions and I end up finding treasures on the internet, and today I found this one, a blog about the book “The Unfeathered Bird” so I’m sharing: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/anatomy-makes-a-comeback-in-the-unfeathered-bird/
    It’s wonderful way to spend time in between working on my translations, so again, thank you for your blog!

  2. And speaking of Mr Naish, I have just seen a pic he blogged about in 2009 and I am taking my Secretary Bird guess off the table.

    The search for the unidentified flying raptor continues…

  3. Pingback: Friday mystery object #298 answer | Zygoma

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