A bony puzzle

Feb 25 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job comes from identifying specimens. It challenges both my knowledge and my ability to solve problems by asking the right questions and finding the right places to look for answers.

As an example, here's a specimen I found in our collections with a tentative identification that I was unconvinced by. I followed my curatorial instincts and they led me not only to a more accurate identification, but also to the rest of the specimen, from which it had been separated before they were donated to the Horniman Museum (where I work). This sort of puzzle-solving is very satisfying.

Why not have a go at working out what this is:

There are quite a few useful resources out there that can help with this sort of thing - not least the Google Image search, which provides a quick way of checking whether a particular species is of the right approximate shape to be worth looking at in more detail. Please feel free to ask questions and make observations or suggestions in the comments section below and I'll do my best to respond.

The answer to what this is will be posted on my personal blog Zygoma on Monday, since my stint as guest blogger for Scientopia will be drawing to a close on Saturday, with two new and exciting guest bloggers starting on Sunday. Enjoy!

9 responses so far

  • travis Bickle says:

    Judging by the size of the snout and the large ridge at the back the googles suggest a large elephant shrew. Possibly Rhynchocyon chrysopygus. am I warm?

  • namnezia says:

    Something with some screwed up brain cavity. I'm assuming the bottom is where the olfactory epithelium goes, and the back cavity is for the cerebellum, but I'm stumped by those ridges on the top, and where are the eye cavities?

    I have no clue.

    • paolo says:

      You're spot-on about the olfactory epithelium and the cerebellum, the eyes are below the level at which the section was taken and I'm not 100% sure which ridges (or rather which top - photo or skull) you mean. I will assume that you mean the nuchal crest which is at the top of the photo or the back of the skull.

  • namnezia says:

    A weasel?