Friday mystery object #132 answer

On Friday I gave you these objects to identify:

I expected you to work out what these came from pretty easily – and you proved me right. In fact, I think this was probably the easiest mystery object so far, given that everyone managed to get a correct identification of  Continue reading

Friday mystery object #128

This week I’m giving you a mystery object that I think will be fairly straightforward to identify, although it might take a few attempts to get the right species:

Let me know what you think in the comments box below – I’ll do my best to reply to any questions. Good luck!

Friday mystery object #126 answer

On Friday I gave you a bit of a tricky mystery object in the shape of this partial skull:

I wasn’t expecting anyone to get it without some clues, but I underestimated my talented audience!

Jake spotted that it was a mammal based on the ear morphology and then worked out what kind of animal based on clues from henstridgesj who suggested seal and Julie Doyle, who managed to not only identify the species, but drop this lovely cryptic clue to convey that information:

Not a lot to phocus on, but……. I’m harboring an idea about who it might be. Continue reading

Friday mystery object #116 answer

On Friday I gave you this skull to identify:

Jake spotted that this was a marsupial’s skull straight away and many of you suggested Kangaroo using a variety of crafty clues. There was also a well reasoned suggestion of Koala that fell just a little short.

Obenedo missed the correct answer by a hair(y nose) but got the right type of animal, as did jonpaulkaiser, Matt King, Jake and Cromercrox.

Neil managed to go that little bit further and get the right species –  Continue reading

Friday mystery object #111 answer

On Friday I gave you this object (from the NHM) to identify:

It was a bit of a tricky one for those of you who haven’t seen the First Time Out exhibition (jackashby and David Godfrey obviously did see it). This fossil skull looks like it belonged to some kind of pig rather than a primate – yes, that’s right, I said primate.

The main feature visible here that indicates that this skull may belong to a primate is the enclosed orbit, which isn’t a particularly strong characteristic since various ungulates also have an enclosed orbit – as I said, it’s a tricky one.

The type of primate is the Koala Lemur Megaladapis edwardsi Forsyth Major, 1894 from Madagascar. It was an arboreal, slow moving, gorilla-sized folivore – with superficial similarities to Koalas (hence the name). It is hypothesised that the extended bony nasal region may have supported a prehensile top lip, that would have been beneficial when foraging for leaves in the trees.

I won’t go into much detail here, because other curators have provided their interpretation for this object as part of the First Time Out project, so I will leave you with a link to that information. However, I would be interested in taking a closer look at the dentition and complete skeleton of one of these animals – I’d like to get a better grip on this apparent convergence on a suid cranial morphology and more gorilla-like body. I wonder what it might have looked like?

Gamorrean Guards by Dextar FX

Friday mystery object #105 answer

I was a bit taken aback by the response to the second anniversary mystery object last Friday. There were a huge number of comments and unfortunately I was tied up all day and was unable to respond – my sincere apologies!

To give you a change from the usual mammal skulls I gave you this bird to identify:

It’s quite a characteristic bird, so I decided to make it more of a challenge by leaving out the usual scale bar – if you’re interested the head of this specimen is about 10cm long.

Obviously the comparatively large head and massive bill were key features that were picked up on, giving the following answers:

I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of you managed to get the correct identification; it is indeed the skeleton of a Kookaburra, more specifically the Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae (Hermann, 1783).

Laughing Kookaburra perched in a eucalypt tree. Taken in December 2008 in Victoria, Australia by Fir0002

Laughing Kookaburra perched in a eucalypt tree. Taken in December 2008 in Victoria, Australia by Fir0002

These large antipodean kingfishers have a very distinctive call, which sounds to me like the laugh of a clown from a nightmare. In fact, I expect these birds are a bit of a nightmare for any small critters that live in their vicinity. That big robust bill is powerful and they use it to eat a wide range of animals including worms, snakes, rats and even some fairly decent sized birds.

They aren’t subtle about their hunting either. They simply grab their prey in their bill and smash it on the ground, on a branch or on a rock then swallow it whole. Often they keep smashing it for quite a while – after all, swallowing a live snake or rat probably isn’t a great idea.

If you look at the skull you might notice a deep groove around the back and a deep indentation on the lower jaw or mandible:

Kookaburra skull

These are muscle scars and it’s quite unusual to find such impressive areas for muscle attachment in bird skulls, but then most birds don’t rely quite as much on brute force to catch and subdue their prey. Kookaburras mean business.

Friday mystery object #99 answer

On Friday I gave you this rather cool skull to identify:

There was no doubt that this was a carnivore of some sort, given the sharp canines and the massive carnassial teeth. Most of you spotted that it was the skull of a juvenile or subadult, given the partially emerged teeth and the unfused sutures. Most of you also spotted that it was a canid of some sort, given the overall shape and the tooth arrangement.

The correct identification was arrived at in short order by David Craven and many of you concurred with his neatly veiled answer of

Could I paint you a picture of this animal?

This answer is a reference to the name of an African carnivore, the  Continue reading