Friday mystery object #244

This week I thought I’d give you a beautiful bird skin from the Horniman collections to have a go at identifying:


Any idea what this colourful critter might be?

You can leave your suggestions in the comments box below – but please try to be cryptic if you find it easy, so other people get a chance to work it out themselves. Enjoy!

Friday mystery object #191 answer

On Friday we had this skull submitted by Dr Ben Swift for identification:


Now this is quite obviously a primate, as it has a bony ring around the orbit, a bony back wall to the orbit and just eight incisors as opposed to the twelve that forms the basal condition for mammals. The teeth also tell us that this is an Old World Monkey (Cercopithecidae), since these primates only have eight premolars instead of the twelve you find in the New World Monkeys (Platyrrhini). The small canines suggest that this is the skull of a female.

From there it starts getting a bit more difficult. The fairly small size of the specimen ruled out a few genera, but the main features that helped narrow down the possibilities were the very flat face, the heavy bony rings around the orbits, the flaring of the zygomatic arches (cheekbones) and the short and rounded braincase. Effectively the only way to consider these features is to look at a lot of comparative specimens (the excellent Mammalian Crania Photographic Archive proved very useful for this).

After a lot of consideration I found myself in agreement with the suggestion of something from the genus  Continue reading

Friday mystery object #184 answer (well, not really)

On Friday I asked for your help with identifying this object:


There were a few interesting suggestions from beaks to bladders, but so far nothing really corresponds with the structure of this specimen. It’s very weird.

It looks like it’s probably from something aquatic, perhaps the ossified swim bladder of a fish, but I’m by no means sure of that.

I will see if I can read the notes written on the specimen under a UV light, but for now I have to admit that I am still stumped. Please let me know if you recognise what it is!

Friday mystery object #183

This week I have another genuine mystery object for you to have a go at identifying. I found a pair of legs in the collection and although I can think of a few things that they don’t come from, I’m a bit stumped as to what they did come from. Here’s one to give you an idea of what they look like:




Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Friday mystery object #163 answer

On Friday I gave you this object from the collections of the Horniman Museum to identify:

The specimen had lost its label at some point in the past, so I had to identify it myself and was hoping to get your opinion on what it might be.

When I first saw it I noticed an odd scar running diagonally across the top of the cranium, which made me wonder if it was some kind of marine bird with an odd salt glad. Then I realised that the scar indicated something else entirely, which gave me the clue I needed to make the identification.

It seems that most of you also noticed the scar and came to similar conclusions, so  23thorns, cackhandedkate, Ric Morris, Jake and Steven D. Garber all recognised it as a woodpecker of some sort and given the length of the skull rachel and henstridgesj arrived at the same conclusion about species as I did, which is the  Continue reading

Friday mystery object #153

This week I am delving into a box of bits to provide a genuine mystery object. I expect I will be doing a few items from this box in the coming weeks, since I am reaching the end of my curatorial review of the Horniman’s mammal osteology collections and I have been left with just a few boxes of random odds and ends that have been on display or have been cut up and the other part put on display.

These items have no information with them at all, so each is a genuine mystery that I hope to solve – a process that starts with identification. Any idea what this might be?

As usual you can put your thoughts, suggestions and observations below and I’ll do my best to reply. Good luck!