Friday mystery object #416 answer

Last week I gave you an anatomical specimen to have a go at identifying:

It proved a popular object, perhaps unsurprisingly given its unusual condition. This becomes a bit clearer when seen the specimen is seen from the back:

The fact that it’s conjoined at the head and chest is fairly obvious, but what kind of animal is it?

This is where the discussion got interesting, with a variety of different aspects of the morphology being discussed, ranging from number of vertebrae to shape of the rostrum (or nose if you prefer). Generally the conversation went back and forth between dog and cat (although sloth also came up).

For me, a handy place to check when trying to differentiate juvenile cats and dogs is the unguals – the tips of the toes. The claws of cats and dogs are quite different. If you look more closely at the image above, you can see that the unguals in this animal are deep-bellied at the base and steeply curved:

This claw shape is functionally well adapted to climbing and the broad base relates to a retractile mechanism – something very feline. Here’s an example from a much bigger felid – a Tiger.

So this is the skeleton of a conjoined kitten. Well done to Chris Jarvis, who was the first to comment and he correctly spotted the feline nature of this specimen.

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