Friday mystery object #379


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

mystery379

Any idea what this might be from? As always you can leave your answers in the comments below and I’ll give you the answer next Friday. Have fun!

19 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #379

  1. Weird. Very low profile: skull, and not even a hint of a postorbital bar, suggesting it doesn’t look ahead much. That makes me think it might have subterranean habits. (Fictitious species: Chthonovivera, talpocides, the mole-hunting civet, that pursues its prey into its tunnels.) But that’s fantasy. Being serious….

    Dental formula looks as if it might be I3/3 C1/1 P3/3 M1/2. This seems like not many molars for a Canid. Taking a stab, I’ll guess some sort of Viverrid. But I should go away and look for comparison images on the WWWeb before making a really serious guess.

    • And, as you suggested, subterranean?! The wear on the canines suggests adult specimen. And what, if any, auditory bullæ does this thing have? (I just threw that in to make Paolo happy: I wouldn’t know auditory bullæ if they did a tag team cabaret for me.)

  2. Obviously it is a carnivore but I don’t see the typical blade-ish carnassials. I see a paroccipital process that lead me towards Procyonids (the shape of the teeth fit their rather omnivorous diet). But I could not find on the www a Procyonid skull similar to this one. I’m surprised to see the orbit so close to the upper teeth row. The orbit are in a very caudal position since the beginning of the orbit is in line with the last upper molar. At the moment I can’t decide if it is a badger or a ferret.

    • I was not really happy with ferret badger although there are some similarities. I think now it is another smelly “badger”. However I don’t know how to sort out M.m. from M.j.

  3. I think Remi may be onto something here. I found one picture of a Mydaus skull on the WWWeb (an old engraving, illustrating the Wikipedia article “St*** B*****”) and
    —similarly very low (height/length smaller than most Carnivore’s)
    —the dental formula looks right.
    Not a perfect match. The W******** image shows at least a hint of an upper postorbital bar. But then, Paolo’s top view picture shows a bit of a widening of the skull roof about where the postorbital bar would start. Worse, the engraving I found seemed to show — it was in lateral view, making these details a bit hard to judge — a bit of sagittal and nuchal crest. But these differences might (thinking back to the puzzling Procyonid a few weeks back) be a male/female thing.

  4. Another thing. Look at the chin: slopes sharply back. (Symphysis seems to be more than 45 degrees from the vertical.) The engraving reproduced by W and Paolo’s photo seem to agree on this.

    Speaking of the symphysis: it’s completely fused in Paolo’s specimen, and similarly none of the sutures in the skull roof are visible. So whatever it is, it looks like a fully mature specimen.

  5. Allen you are right – the choanal region sutures are fused on the ventral side of the skull (near the volmer and the preshenoid) which indicates an adult skull. At first, the rounded lower jaw reminded me of many marsupials. Well, that took me on a long goose chase. Which is silly since it is obviously not a goose – mon or otherwise. All mongoose (mongooses?) have well developed orbital regions.
    I have settled for the viverrid group… But badgers in general seem to possess a postorbital bar, and our mystery does not have that. This one has minimal support for an eye.
    Too slender for a genet. And look where the auditory meatus is… large, but low and very far forward. Palm civiet has too much of a ridge on the top.
    An African civet (Civettictis civetta) size is too large for our mystery, and they usually have a sagittal crest. Viverricula indica (small Indian civet) best bet so far. But there are still problems.
    Back to the search!

  6. That is a very difficult one, Paolo. There is almost nothing concerning the cranial characteristics of the Mydaus species online. I finally found a 1939’s volume of the Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College with some features of the upper premolars (but no illustration …). Now I’ll bet it is a female Javan stink-badger.

  7. I agree with Rémi – this was a hard one. I know it was from the Dead Zoo because it was killin’ me. Well, I changed my direction since civet dentition just didn’t match. What did match was the Mydaus genus. Looking in that direction after a quick search of, oh… maybe 6 -8 hours, I narrowed it down to M. javanensis or M. marchei. Common names were so confusing since the animals were called Sunda, Palawan, Malay, and Indonesian interchangeably.
    Comparing the two, M.j. has the slender snout, and a larger infraorbital foramen than the M.m. The big decider for me was the tympanic bulla. They seem to match the M.j. but not the smoother M.m. Also, females in the M.j. are known to lack a sagittal crest, so my best guess is female M. javanensis. About 4 years old. That had just eaten 6 earthworms and two beetles. And she had a limp on her left hind limb. (just kidding about the 6 earthworms, it was only 3)

  8. Pingback: Friday mystery object #379 answer | Zygoma

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