As I suspected, it wasn’t too much of a challenge. Jake got in quick with the suggestion of a Sri Lankan Python, with Gina Allnatt, Kevin and Rhina Duque-Thues all agreeing with a generic Python sp. identification. Nicola Newton also suggested Python, but she was of the opinion that it was probably a Royal Python or Carpet Python on the basis of the size.
I agree with Nicola and think that this is most likely the skull of a Royal (or Ball) Python Python regius (Shaw, 1802), based on the size of the specimen and the shape of the supratemporal and frontal bones compared to other Pythons I was able to find images for (if you don’t know which bones I mean you can see what I mean on a handy annotated picture of a Python skull from the Digimorph website).
The skull is one of several similar specimens from the old King’s College teaching collection, so it’s a pretty good bet that the skulls came from either research animals or pets. The Royal Python is a fairly small African Python that is commonly sold as a pet because it has a mild temperament – so that helps offer a bit of support for the identification, although what’s really needed is a detailed identification key for Python skulls or access to good comparative material.
The lack of good resources for identifying the skulls of snakes is a bit frustrating. After working with bird and mammal skulls, where there are some amazing resources like Skullsite and the Mammalian Crania Photographic Archive I’m still searching for something similar for reptiles. Perhaps the Deep Scaly Project will deliver the goods one day… here’s hoping!
On Friday I gave you this rather unusual looking skull to identify:
In fact, it’s so unusual that it doesn’t even look entirely like a skull, so it’s not surprising that the specimen proved a bit of a challenge.
Some elements (like the lower jaw) look a bit like they’re from a turtle, but other elements of the skull shape look more like they belong to an amphibian – from something like Necturus perhaps. Despite these similarities to some of the ‘basal’ tetrapods, the skull is actually from a fish.
The reason why it looks quite similar to a tetrapod skull and less like the average fish is because it belongs to a member of the Lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygii) which are more closely related to the tetrapods than the more common and diverse Ray-finned fish (Actinopterygii). Despite the difficult identification, microecos managed to spot that this was a Lungfish and henstridgesj managed to identify the species as being the Continue reading →
On Friday I gave you this unidentified specimen from the Horniman’s collections to take a look at. I had already had a go at working out what it is, but it never hurts to get a second opinion.
It’s actually a bit of a generic looking overall shape, perhaps reminiscent of a owl or a maybe a pheasant of some sort. However, the nares (nostrils) are very small and round and set in a bill that is sharp, shortish and very solidly constructed, which is something you only really see in a few passerines, some parrots and the falcons. The skull is too big for a passerine and the bill is totally the wrong overall shape for a parrot, which leaves us with a falcon – a fairly small one at that.
From there the shape of the palate and the proportions of the cranium led me to a species identification that I’m pleased to say agreed with that proposed by Tony Irwin and Wouter van Gestel (who eloquently explained the indicative characters that I mentioned above). We all think that this is the cranium of a Continue reading →
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 →
This week I have a skull for you to have a go at identifying that has been submitted by Dr Ben Swift. Any idea what species this belongs to?
I’ll be trying to get an identification on this specimen myself and I’m not the best at primates, so your suggestions and comments would be appreciated – let’s see if we can crowdsource an identification!
This week I have a skull with character for you to identify. It will probably prove to be little challenge to some of you, but if you know what it is please try to use cryptic clues so you don’t spoil the game for others:
Put your thoughts below and I’ll be sure to make comments during the day. Enjoy!