Friday mystery object #452

This week I have a guest mystery object for you to have a go at identifying, courtesy of Rohan Long:

Here’s another specimen from the comparative anatomy collection of the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology at the University of Melbourne.

I have identified and documented almost the whole collection of almost 500 specimens, except for a few dozen that I have so far been unable to identify – the “box of shame”. These specimens mostly comprise fragmentary or isolated elements.

However, one of these problematic specimens comprises a partial skull articulated with four cervical vertebrae. Despite these particular skeletal elements usually enabling ready identification, this specimen has confounded me for months. I have had various hypotheses as to whom the skull could belong to, but nothing has been quite right.

I have googled images, I have visited our zoology museum, I have looked at books, and I have not been able to find the identity of this skull. Can you solve this osteological enigma? 

Image by Yijie Cheng, 2023
Image by Yijie Cheng, 2023
Image by Yijie Cheng, 2023
Image by Yijie Cheng, 2023
Image by Yijie Cheng, 2023
Image of mystery bones, by Yijie Cheng, 2023
Image by Yijie Cheng, 2023

By the way, we have a brand new online database where you can explore our comparative anatomy specimens, along with our other public collections. It’s the first time in about a century that this significant collection has been accessible to people outside of our Anatomy Department.

I think I may know what this is, but both myself and Rohan would love to hear your thoughts!

8 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #452

  1. It is an anseriform for sure the large oval basipterygoid articulations are a give away. With that profile, i’d lose my voice while trying to say the name of a certain Western Australian River.

  2. Well… Anseriforms are not mammals. So, though I hadn’t gotten very far before looking at Adam and Wouter’s replies, I seem to have been going in the right direction. (Feature that got me going in the direction of “Not a mammal”: mammals tend to have very large neural crests on their second cervical vertebrae, and this doesn’t. And, in the ventral view… is that a single, unpaired, occipital condyle at the back of the skull?)

  3. I knew bird because of the cervical vertebrate – I have a similar section from a flamingo. But after that, similarities disappear. I am going quackers trying to find the species.

  4. Pingback: Friday mystery object #452 answer | Zygoma

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