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?
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!
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.
And here was thinking it looked like a turtle.
That was one of my initial hypotheses! A quick trip to the zoology museum showed me that no testudine skull actually looks like this…
I agree with Adam
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?)
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.
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