Every summer museums get an influx of objects discovered on beaches by holidaymakers. This week’s mystery object is from a beach in Kerry, Ireland, found by Emer, Ronan, Rory and Paddy:
Any idea what this is and what it comes from?
You can leave your questions, thoughts and suggestions in the comments box below. Have fun!
Last week I gave you this unassuming bit of bone, that I found with no identification in the Grant Museum of Zoology stores:
Daniel Jones and Daniel Calleri identified the element as a radius, but beyond that there was a general feeling that identification of species was a bit on the tricky side. Palfreyman1414 pointed out that it’s something approximately human sized, with Lena ruling out an ungulate, suggesting that it could be from a carnivore or possibly a marsupial.
I must admit that my mind immediately went to carnivores and I initially thought it could be from a Black Bear, since it’s fairly robust and about the right length. However, after checking the ever helpful Adams & Crabtree book I realised that bears are even more chunky than this.
It didn’t look right for a dog since they are straighter, have a flatter profile and a narrower distal end. However, it did look right for a big cat and I’m fairly certain that it’s from a Leopard Panther pardus (Linnaeus, 1758). If you want to compare a Leopard with a Dog radius you can see them compared in this paper, along with a good description of the bones of the Leopard forearm.
A bit of a tricky challenge – so next time I may try to do something a bit more distinctive!
This week I have an unidentified postcranial element for you to identify, which I came across in the Grant Museum of Zoology stores this week:
Any idea what it is and, more importantly, what it’s from?
You can leave your comments, questions and suggestions in the comments section below. Have fun!
Last week I gave you this part of a skull to have a go at identifying:
It’s quite a distinctive structure and very particular to one particular group of mammals. It is of course an external auditory meatus (or ear hole as it’s more commonly known), but instead of opening directly into the auditory bulla (the inflated bony bulb that holds the ear bones) it has a long and robust tube.
Lee Post, Daniel Calleri & Dan Jones and Allen Hazen recognised this characteristic feature as belonging to a Beaver and Richard Lawrence went one better and narrowed it down to Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820 – an identification that I agree with having seen the whole skull:
I’m not sure if there’s any real functional reason for the ear tube, but it looks to me like it might be a “spandrel” a feature that’s an artefact of another adaptive feature – in this case the articulation of the mandible.
Gnawing through a tree trunk is no easy task, so it’s not surprising that the Beaver has some serious adaptations to deal with the work involved. Unlike carnivores, which have a fixed lateral mandibular articulation powered mainly by the temporalis muscles, rodents have a dorso-ventral articulation usually powered by the masseter muscles, which allows the jaw to move backward and forward. In the Beaver the sagittal crest suggests that the temporal muscles are more involved than usual which, with the orientation of the articulation, may necessitate the ear tubes as lateral braces against which the mandible can secondarily articulate. That’s my guess…
Great work on identifying this specimen using very limited information!
Sticking with a close-up theme, have you got any idea what this very distinctive bit of bone is from?
As usual, you can leave your suggestions, comments and questions below. If you find this too easy feel free to spice up your answer with some cryptic clues. Have fun!
Last week I gave you this zoomed in picture of a specimen to have a go at identifying:
It was a bit tricky, so I also gave you this bonus clue to help:
I was impressed to see that, despite the limited information available from the images provided, many of you managed to work out that this shows the lightweight ‘honeycomb’ structure that supports the casque of a hornbill.
That was the first challenge but, as ever, I was keen to see if you could get the identification to species – far more of a challenge considering the lack of a side view of the skull and lack of a scale. To make up for that I’ve decided to provide the necessary image here:
I won’t say what species this is in this post, as I normally would, just to give some more of you a chance to make the identification yourself. However, what I will say is that the very first response by Wood contained a link to an image of the correct species and later to a blogpost featuring this very specimen. In that post there is a discussion about the appearance of the casque, with speculation about whether it had been damaged during preparation, resulting in its appearance. However, as Richard Lawrence pointed out, this appearance is actually normal for the skulls of several species of hornbill.
I will also say that the discussion between Daniel Calleri & Dan Jones and Richard Lawrence about whether it was a hornbill from a genus starting with A or B was interesting and I initially thought it was an A, but am now convinced that it’s a C.
If you’re desperate to know which species it’s from, here’s a link to the skullsite.com page about it.
This week I have a mystery object for you that’s a bit different from the usual. Any idea what this zoomed in picture is showing?
It’s probably a bit of a tricky one, so if you want an extra image that makes it much easier you can click on this link for a bonus clue.
Please leave your suggestions in the comments below – I’d love to find out your thoughts and let me know if you needed the clue. Have fun!