Last Friday I gave you this odd bit of bone (or should I say bones) from a box of mixed objects to identify:
As Ellen Going immediately recognised, it’s a scapula and clavicle – which in itself tells us that it can’t be from a Carnivore or Ungulate, since they lack a well-developed clavicle.
The open articulation with large acromial and coracoid processes and the symmetrical, blade-like scapula body suggest that this is an animal with a lot of movement in the shoulder, and reciprocal movement at that (hence the symmetry). This suggests a flapping animal, but without the extreme clavicle adaptation (i.e. the wishbone) seen in birds.
So as Flick Baker, Ric Morris and Joey Williams all realised, this is the shoulder and clavicle of a large fruit bat, in the family Pteropodidae. Good work!
Last week I gave you this object to have a go at identifying:
I thought it looked a bit like an Ewok’s weapon, but fairly obviously it’s a bit of some critter’s leg. The question is, which critter?
In comments by David M Watson, David Hone, taihaku and palfreyman1414 it was quickly recognised as being from a ratite (the group of flightless birds that include Emus, Cassowaries, Kiwis, Rheas and Ostriches – plus some extinct examples like Moas and Elephant Birds), but it was henstridgesj who narrowed it down to a tarsometatarsus (fused ankle and foot bones) of the correct ratite – the Ostrich Struthio camelus Linnaeus, 1758.
The size is a bit smaller than you’d expect for an adult Ostrich and the top of the bone (the bit on the left) is less well fused, so it appears to be from a subadult individual. The reason it can be distinguished from some of the other suggested ratites is all down to the number of trochlea (the rounded and grooved end bits that the toes attach to). Ostriches only have two toes, whereas the other ratites have three or four and this is reflected in those trochlea.
Ostrich foot showing the two toes. Image by Tony Wills (2007)
So well done to everyone who took part, especially henstridgesj who was spot on!
This week I have a specimen for you to have a go at identifying, that has come from a box of “mixed bones” that I’ve been working through:
It may look like some sort of Ewok weapon, but I’m pretty sure it’s also part of an animal. Any idea what critter this might be from?
As usual, you can leave your thoughts, comments and suggestions below. Have fun!
This week I have a mystery object for you that had me stumped for a little while recently, after it didn’t match the comparative material I had to hand. I managed to work out what it is, but I thought that it might make for a fun challenge as the 250th Friday mystery object:
Any idea what this is and what species it comes from?
As usual you can leave your (preferably cryptic) observations, questions and suggestions in the comments section below. Have fun!
This week I have another mystery object for you from the wonderful Galerie d’anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie in Paris:
Any idea what species this exploded skull is from?
It’s probably a bit on the easy side for some of you, so please try to give your answers a cryptic spin, to keep the game fresh for everyone. Enjoy!
This week I have another perplexing mystery object for you, that I’ve found harder to identify than expected:
I’ve compared it to several specimens in a similar size range and it hasn’t matched any of them well enough to make a confident attempt at identification. Whatever it is, I don’t have a skeleton of anything comparable in the stores at the Horniman, and it’s a chunky critter with much more robust hind limbs than a Eurasian Badger Meles meles.
Any suggestions on what this might be from would be greatly appreciated!
Last week I gave you this mystery skull from the stunning Galerie d’anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie in Paris:
I was struck by the cat-like dentition and general shape, but as many of you worked out, that’s no cat.
It is in fact a specimen of a Fossa Cryptoprocta ferox Bennett, 1833, as correctly identified by Charne, Manabu Sakamoto, Nigel Monaghan, SMerjeevski – good skills!
Fossa by Ran Kirlian
This carnivore is endemic to Madagascar and is the foremost natural predator of lemurs. They are well adapted to climbing in order to catch their tree-dwelling main course, with rotating ankles a bit like a Margay.
Madagascar is an amazing place for biology. It separated from Africa around 20 million years ago and has had its own unique wildlife evolving there ever since. This means that the familiar cats that fill niches in (relatively) nearby Africa are missing, since they didn’t really exist when Madagascar started drifting off. The Fossa fills that catty niche.
There may be more mystery objects to come from the Galerie d’anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie, since the whole place blew me away!