Last week I gave you a tricky mystery object in the form of a dusty bag:
Of course, I’m not truly that mean, so I also provided a characteristic part of the specimen:
Despite being a bit broken, it’s fairly clearly the mandible of a felid, given the shape of that one molar and the limited sockets for the missing premolars, suggesting something with a very reduced tooth count – something that most of you spotted straight away.
The size is a bit small for a Tiger or Lion, it’s a bit big for a Puma or Cheetah and it’s not quite as robust as I’d expect from a Jaguar, leaving us with the likely identification of Leopard Panthera pardus (Linnaeus, 1758). So well done to joe vans and palreyman1414 for ‘spotting’ what it was (terribly pun, I know).
Here’s a nice Leopard skull from the Grant Museum of Zoology collections to give a sense of scale.
More mystery objects to come from the Grant next week, but if you’d like to see another specimen from the collection, my latest specimen of the week, that looks at the darker side of the Walrus might be of interest.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I have recently started a new job as Curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL. If you’ve never visited, you should pop by, and if you have visited then why not vote for us in the Time Out Love London Awards, preferably right now, since voting closes today. I’d love it if we could beat our heavyweight neighbour, the British Museum!
Moving on to the real subject of the blog, I have finally had a chance to start hunting for specimens in the Grant to see if there are any unidentified items tucked away that might make good mystery objects – and my new colleague Tannis knew just where to look:
This bag-o-bones came to us from the Royal Free Hospital and was completely sealed up, making it hard to see inside. For those of you who like a challenge I’ll leave you with just this image, but if you’d like a slightly less tricky image to work from, you can see the single most distinctive part of the specimen here.
Do you have any idea what it might be? It’s pretty easy if you check out the distinctive bit, so please keep your answers cryptic if you can!
Oh, and if you like skulls, you might be interested in my first Specimen of the Week on the Grant Museum blog.
This Friday I have some news as well as a mystery object.
After eight enjoyable years at the Horniman Museum & Gardens, I have just accepted a new role as curator of the fantastic Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London, starting in October!
For those of you who don’t know the Grant, it’s named for Robert Edmond Grant, Professor of Comparative Anatomy at UCL from 1827-1874. It contains around 68,000 specimens, including a lot of fantastic osteology that I’ve featured on this blog before. I’ll be the fourteenth curator, with some big shoes to fill (information on my predecessors can be found in this series of posts).
I will of course be very sad to leave the Horniman, which has been a fantastic place to work, filled with wonderful people who I’ll miss. I’ll also miss helping out with identification of materials in the Horniman’s Anthropology and Musical Instrument collections, which is the inspiration of this mystery object:
Any idea what this object is made from?
As usual you can leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments box below.
Soon there will be a new collection for me to explore and I hope to be able to share the excitement of that process with you!