Friday mystery object #274

Last week I talked about ungulates in collections being incorrectly identified as sheep. This week I have a specimen for you that is also not a sheep, although it does look a bit sheepish. Can you work out what it is?

mystery274

You can leave your thoughts in the comments section below – I’m not sure they need to be cryptic, but it certainly adds to the fun!

Friday mystery object #272

This week I have another specimen from the Grant Museum of Zoology for you to try your hand at identifying:

mystery272

I have a feeling that it may be easy to get this identification to Family level, but species may prove a little bit more tricky.

I’d love to hear what you think it might be, so leave your suggestions in the comments box below. Have fun!

Friday mystery object #271 answer

Last Friday I gave you this odd looking V-shaped bone to identify:

mystery271a

It led to a lot of speculation on Facebook and Twitter, with ideas including a bird wishbone, hyoid or mandible. However, the comments on the blog tended to be a little more focussed in the area of the mandible of an ant-eating mammal.

The two little prongs at the anterior of this lower jaw are a bit of a give-away about which type of ant-eating mammal it is, as they are only seen on one family. When you look at the additional image I provided it becomes even easier to work out which:

mystery271b

As most of you correctly worked out, this is a specimen of Pangolin, of which there are four species in the genus Manis (thanks Allen Hazen for the correction – there are more like eight species in the family). I found this nice illustration of the skulls of the various species, to help narrow it down even further:

Anatomical and zoological researches: comprising an account of the zoological results of the two expeditions to western Yunnan in 1868 and 1875; and a monograph of the two cetacean genera, Platanista and Orcella. John Anderson, 1878.

Anatomical and zoological researches: comprising an account of the zoological results of the two expeditions to western Yunnan in 1868 and 1875; and a monograph of the two cetacean genera, Platanista and Orcella. John Anderson, 1878.

So it appears from the morphology of the premaxilla, zygomatic region and nasals that this is a Sunda Pangolin, Manis javanica Desmarest, 1822.

Manis javanica by Piekfrosch, 2006

Manis javanica by Piekfrosch, 2006

These unusual scaly insectivores are critically endangered due to poaching for their meat, skin and scales for the Chinese market, with their population suspected to have declined by 80% in the last 20 years, despite having a protected status. Sad to say that their ability to roll into an armoured ball does nothing to protect them from people.

Friday mystery object #268 answer

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely festive period.

I gave you this distinctive specimen from the Grant Museum of Zoology to try your hand at identifying:

mystery268

Despite being distinctive, it raised some discussion about the identification, because there are few resources available for comparison.

Phil Cox was the first to get the right Family (at least in the comments – @MelanieGbones got it on Twitter) – the Chrysochloridae or Golden Moles. Then the discussion got a bit more involved as species were discussed and the possibility of the convergent Marsupial Moles was considered.

There are 21 species of Golden Mole, all of which occur in southern Africa, which could have made this a very difficult identification to species, if it wasn’t for the large size of the skull and the very characteristic large and vertically-posteriorly flaring zygomatic arch that continues round to near the back of the skull. This narrows it down to one of two species in the genus Chrysospalax.

The extent of this feature in this specimen, plus the shape of the palate, suggest to me that this particular specimen is from the

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