Friday mystery object #370


This week I have a pretty cool skull from the Dead Zoo for you to have a go at identifying:

It’s one of those that should be easy for anyone who has seen one before, due to its weird morphology, but if you’ve not seen it before then it could be a real challenge.

So, if you know what this is please leave a cryptic clue, and if not feel free to pop your questions, thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

Have fun!

13 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #370

  1. My initial thought was N. elephant s., but haven’t found good comparative material online, and there are issues. It has the big depression for the proboscis of the male which still directs me to that type, but I only have had contact with the N. American kind. There is a big world out there I know little about, so can’t wait to find out what it actually is.

  2. Initially wondered if it could be a primate, but Jeanie, above, sent me in an entirely different, and more promising, direction. More research needed… I may be some time.

  3. The upper “caniniform” occludes in front of the lower, so whatever the big front teeth are, they aren’t canines. There is one mammalian clade that I know of where that sort of thing happens: Eutherian, but neither Afrotherian nor Boreoeutherian. Just what within this clade it is… I’ll have to look further. (Many members of this clade have descending processes from the zygomatic arch, and this one doesn’t. That should help.)

    • Hmmmm…. I’m a whole lot LESS confident than I was. They color looks like a recent rather than a fossil specimen, but it clearly doesn’t belong to one of the two extant genera of the group I was thinking of. And all the skull pictures I have found of whatsits have the descending process on the zygomatic arch that this one lacks. Maybe I should investigate Jeanie’s suggestion.

      • Well, I’ve found one supposed photo of an El.S. skull on the web (taken in South Africa, so probably the southern species), and there are some differences. (i) there seems to be less of a postorbital bar (projecting upward from the front of the z.a.) on this than on the El.S. (ii) the postcanine teeth on the El.S. look more conical and these more bulbous. (iii) the upper canine on the El.S. occludes behind the lower, as in most mammals.
        Sudden thought: the lower jaw is dislocated in this photo, with the coronoid process sticking in the glenoid. Correct this, and I think the “canines” would be in their proper relationship. So: ignore my original suggestion– I no longer think it’s one of THEM. Critters that catch fish in the sea don’t usually do much in the way of chewing, so the reduced post-canines … are plausible for members of the family to which Jeanie’s suggestion belongs.

  4. I interpret Paolo as approving Salliereynolds’s suggestion, so I looked up C. on Wikipedia. There’s a photograph of a skull there which looks like a very good match (and looks much more sensible than the photo here since the jawbone is properly articulated!).
    Initially I thought W’s photo showed a skull with a greater length/height ratio than the one here, but that’s an illusion: the skull shown here looks higher and “blockier,” but that’s just because of the way it is propped up on the misarticulated dentary.
    (I should have caught the problem earlier! But Paolo’s posting of a photo of the skull as it was on the shelf rather than repositioning it makes this a better lesson in honing one’s observational skills. Thank you!)

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