Friday mystery object #125 answer


On Friday I gave you a bit of a tricky mystery object:

Jackashby spotted that the skull is from a bat and Rob Hinkley did a bit of research while on a trip to the Horniman and was able to identify what the specimen is labelled as. Apparently it’s a Lesser Spear-nosed Bat Phyllostomus elongatus Geoffroy, 1810.

However, looking at images of skulls on the excellent Animal Diversity Web resource by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, I have some reservations about this identification. The rostrum (nosey snouty bit) is shorter and more rectangular than I would expect for a Lesser Spear-nosed Bat, which is more tapered and triangular in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology specimen shown below:

Phyllostomus elongatus (lesser spear-nosed bat) by Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

In fact, to me it looks more like the skull of the Great Fruit-eating Bat Artibeus lituratus Olfers, 1818:

Artibeus lituratus (great fruit-eating bat) by Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

Or maybe the Short-headed Broad-nosed Bat Platyrrhinus brachycephalus Rouk & Carter, 1972:

Platyrrhinus brachycephalus (short-headed broad-nosed bat) by Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

Platyrrhinus brachycephalus (short-headed broad-nosed bat) by Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

In order to decide I’ll need to dig out the published descriptions of all of the possible species and take a careful look at the specimens. I think that the Short-headed Broad-nosed Bat may be a good match, partly because of the size, but also because the species was only described in 1972 and the specimen we have on display has probably been there since the 1930′s and has been misidentified since it came into the museum.

Something fun for me to check out and a great illustration of how our understanding of biology changes over time, with new species being recognised long after specimens have been collected.

One thought on “Friday mystery object #125 answer

  1. A bat! I didn’t even suspect it would be a bat. Just goes to show how much I depend on a side view of the teeth when making my guesses. Another fun mystery object, as always. :)

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