Friday mystery object #381

This week I have another skull from Dublin Dead Zoo’s dreaded “Unidentified” drawer:


It’s toothless, a bit battered and pretty old, but I’m sure you’ll be able to work out what species this cranium came from. I hope you enjoy the challenge!

20 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #381

  1. This came out of a drawer? I thought it would have just been lyin’ around…or perhaps in a sealed cabinet. I just can’t decide.

  2. As though this skull hasn’t suffered enough, it now has to face the indignity of not even being portrayed to scale.

    At first glance, I’m with Wouter…

  3. I think I’m on the same track Wouter & co (and James’s puns). The holes where the roots of the teeth used to be interesting: the post-canine teeth seem to have been small, and gotten smaller as you go to the back of the jaw. This is characteristic of the family (or families, since I don’t know enough to tell if this critter was eared or earless) involved: catching comparatively small, slippery, things and swallowing them whole doesn’t require the same sort of teeth as tearing chunks of flesh off a large, land-dwelling, prey.

  4. Seems that this skull stayed too long on the beach. The supra-orbital process makes me think that this carnivore was able to clap its “hands”.

    • I agree with Wouter. I don’t know how to sort out the different genera and species but given the place where it was found, I assume it is the Spanish-speaking one

  5. Thank you for the hint (to Joe Vans) about location! Enlarged, it’s just legible on the palate. So: a Southern Pacific species…

  6. Eared or earless….
    Thanks to Rémi, I thought about supraorbital processes, and went looking on the WWWeb for skulls. I found good pictures of skulls of one eared species and two earless, and — good spotting Rémi! — there is an architectural difference: the eared critter has supraorbital processes and the earless don’t.(*) So (consistent with the “Simba” and “Lyin’ about” hints) I think this is probably from a member of the eared family.

    Which species? Well, Wikipedia (font of all knowledge and error!) on the islands whose name is written on the palate had a link to some Spanish-language article on the islands. My Spanish is very limited(**), but the article did include Zoological names: apparently the islands in question are visited by two different species of eared whatever: Otaria flavescens and Arctocephalus australis. On no very good grounds, I’m going to bet on the bigger of the two. (If I had a better grasp of the proportions of skull-length to total length in these animals, the scale bar might help me!)

    (*)I assume that the function of the postorbital process has something to do with supporting the eyeball: the difference, then, suggests that the eared ones have more forward-directed and the Earles more side-directed eyes. Which, thinking back on specimens I have seen with flesh and blood on their bones, is maybe plausible.

    (**)English and Spanish both analogize Otaria to terrestrial Carnivore’s: English to a species of Panthera, Spanish to a large species of Canis. And whoever named Arctocephalus chose a third!

    • It’s difficult to find criteria to sort out Otaria skulls from Arctocephalus. Sexual dimorphism is impressive and doesn’t help in this task. There is an article by Daniela Sanfelice but it is written in Portuguese. I could not read it but from the pictures it looks like the teeth row is shorter in Otaria and is more similar to the specimen from the Dead Zoo.

  7. Sexual dimorphism is impressive…
    When I looked up Otaria on “Skulls Unlimited” they had an array of skulls which I would not have recognized as being from the same species: I assume that at least some of the difference was sex-related. Since some of the “Skulls Unlimited” ones had sagittal crests less prominent than the one on Paolo’s drawer, I’m guessing that his is male. I(if it’s not, I plead amateur standing.)

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