Friday mystery object #316

Back to bones this week, with a mystery skull for you to identify. Any idea what species this skull belonged to?


I don’t think it will prove too much of a challenge for the bone geeks among you, so please try to be a bit cryptic with your answers to keep it fresh and fun for those who are not so familiar – and that’s a cryptic clue about what it’s not right there 🙂

Have fun!

17 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #316

  1. I am going to say stuff I don’t know the meaning of, like “dentition”, and “auditory bullæ” and missing teeth… and pretend that that is my cryptic clue. And I have the feeling that, despite my desire, this may have no connection to the Eurasian Wren…

    • So… being stubborn and stupid I am going to double down on my initial guess: the commie who shares a characteristic with the wren (and, of course, the US’ urbs prima) .

      • My view is certainly not the popular one, but I am holding out hope that I may just be right, since Grandmaster Viscardi said:

        “those who are not so familiar – and that’s a cryptic clue about what it’s not right there”

        So… I wait for Friday, or more convincing posts by others. Particularly to explain these proportions (which are, to my mind, very regular and therefore might represent a “primitive” state as opposed to a “derived” breed), in a skull only 12.5 cm long.

  2. I’m sure I can say there’s something familiar about this one…I’ll howl if I think of anything.

  3. I suppose a real pro could make something of the number of roots the missing premolars had.
    There is a very marked concavity in the profile of the snout, just in front of the orbits. I think that’s sometimes held up as a mark of the familiar one as opposed to its wild ancestor, but that’s probably not reliable: too much individual variation. Somebody somewhere– I think it was Stanley J. Olsen in his “Origins of the Domestic Dog”– pointed out that the display, at the Paige (sp?) Museum (La Brea Tar Pits) in Loss Angeles, of hundreds of Canis virus skulls against a lighted backdrop gave a great opportunity for judging individual variation: a significant number had the snout profile of domestic dogs!

  4. I suppose the lack of a well pronounced sagital crest is also indicative of one that waits at a bowl vs. hunts on its own. The dental formula looks right, too.

  5. Birrdegg– Not sure. The dental formula is much the same across the family, so doesn’t tell us much. (Fun fact: Canis familiars and Ursus arctos have the same dental formula.) This specimen does have a distinct, though not overwhelming, sagittal crest. It’s also from a reasonably small animal: about the size of a medium-sized domestic dog, not a top-of-the-line wolf. My impression (based more on cats than dogs) is that smallish species have less pronounced sagittal crests than large: in a house cat, the brain case itself is big enough to give room for anchorage of the chewing/biting muscles. In a tiger… the brain is bigger absolutely, of course, but smaller in proportion to body size. So there has to be a higher sagittal crest to provide space for muscle origin. So, basically, I agree with your observations (there’s a definitely doggy look to the tooth row, and the sagittal crest isn’t really impressive), but I’m not sure of their significance.

  6. The sutures between the frontals, nasals, and maxillaries are helpfully blackened in these photos. Frustratingly, they are hard to make out in “Skulls Unlimited’s” catalog pages… but does the exact shape and pattern of these suture vary across the Canidae? If so…

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