Necromancer's Apprentice

Skins, bones, tendons & other amusing things

I know what you’ll think. “Another photoset? Will this girl ever write anything again? Why did you burn my toast?”

But this one is for all you thylacine lovers.

This real-bone skull of Thylacinus cynocephalus is on display at the  Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I took the pictures when I went there with my family two weeks ago. These were, sadly, the only angles I could get without breaking my neck,  but they still let you appreciate what a marvel of convergent evolution this skull is. At first look there are definitely more similarities to your typical canid skull than there are differences.

The first and most obvious thing is the dentition, in particular the lack of pronounced carnassials. Another thing that is easy to spot, and is in my opinion the definitive way of telling if an animal is a marsupial once you know what to look for, is the presence of the two gaping holes on the posterior side of the palate (third photo). These are palatal vacuities and all marsupials have them. Another, less obvious, feature in the larger depth of the masseteric fossa (A simple legend can be found here and the breadth of the two sides of the mandible as seen from below, where a bony shelf is formed (fourth photo).

I will leave the rest of the difference-spotting fun to you. You can find a useful comparison chart here:

This turned out longer than expected! Hope you like it.

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