Friday mystery object #294 answer(ish)

Last week I gave you this particularly tricky mystery object from the Dead Zoo to have a go at identifying over Christmas:


It turned out to be far more difficult to identify than expected, with most people thinking of some kind of corvid, which it certainly looks like from the side. However, it’s too small for any but the smallest of the crows and from the top and bottom view, the bill isn’t the right shape for any of them – being too broad, with a long mandibular symphysis (which is where the two halves of the mandible fuse together).

I have spent a good deal of the Christmas week scanning through the images of skulls on in an effort to narrow it down, but although I’ve seen a few families of birds that have some similarities, I’ve not found anything that matches all that well in terms of size and shape.

The closest species in terms of bill shape are probably in the Eurylaimidae, which are the Broadbills, but the specimens I’ve seen are still not quite right and all are smaller than this mystery specimen. I am wondering if a species like the Dusky Broadbill Corydon sumatranus (Raffles, 1822) might be a better match on size and shape, but it’s proving hard to find comparative specimens. I will keep searching…

Have a very happy New Year!

6 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #294 answer(ish)

  1. In India there is a phrase: KLD, which stands for, roughly, Khade Lund pe Dhoka

    When literally translated it means tricked (or deceived) on an erection (phallic sense).

    In short, it refers to a letdown after the raising of expectations…

    I am not saying this answer-ish is exactly a KLD, but I was expecting a trifle more (or even a plum pudding or Christmas cake more) from a man who recently perpetrated the “slave to the beet” pun.

    So we can take for granted it is not a corvid, yes?

    The search continues…

    • I suspect we may never know. Like the bird keel a few fortnights ago it will become one of those Marabar Caves incidents and all we will get out of it is one of those E M Forster’s novels in which the narrator cannot be trusted and actuality is ambiguous…


  2. Hello, did read this blog today and can tell you this is a Coracina novaehollandiae. Got a large skull collection myself (mostly birds) and got also some larger Eurylaimidae specimens like Eurylaimus javanicus. The bills of these birds are wider, the bone between the eyes is smaller and the skulls are more flat. If you want I can send some pictures of both specimens.

    • Hi Gerard, thanks for that – it seems like a good match! I can now take a look in the documentation and see if we’re missing a C. novaehollandiae specimen. Much appreciated!

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