Skip to main content

Felid skulls

I've been looking at and taking measurements from felid skulls now for a few weeks. I've been up in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland for three days and I've also been at the osteological collections at the Bristol City Museum and Art Galleries for the last week now. I've covered 30 species of the 41 recognised extant felid species.

The funny thing is that some of the older specimens in the Bristol Museum are either mislabeled or not labeled at all and we sat there for some time comparing specimens trying to ID the damned things. I'm starting to pick up some subtle morphological distinctions but it's all kind of useless unless I can link them to the right species. All I need is a list of diagnostic characters...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

R for beginners and intermediate users 3: plotting with colours

For my third post on my R tutorials for beginners and intermediate users, I shall finally touch on the subject matter that prompted me to start these tutorials - plotting with group structures in colour.

If you are familiar with R, then you may have noticed that assigning group structure is not all that straightforward. You can have a dataset that may have a column specifically for group structure such as this:

B0 B1 B2 Family
Acrocanthosaurus 0.308 -0.00329 3.28E-05 Allosauroidea
Allosaurus 0.302 -0.00285 2.04E-05 Allosauroidea
Archaeopteryx 0.142 -0.000871 2.98E-06 Aves
Bambiraptor 0.182 -0.00161 1.10E-05 Dromaeosauridae
Baryonychid 0.189 -0.00238 2.20E-05 Basal_Tetanurae
Carcharodontosaurus 0.369 -0.00502 5.82E-05 Allosauroidea
Carnotaurus 0.312 -0.00324 2.94E-05 Neoceratosauria
Ceratosaurus 0.377 -0.00522 6.07E-05 Neoceratosauria
Citipati 0.278 -0.00119 5.08E-06 Oviraptorosauria
Coelophysi…

The difference between Lion and Tiger skulls

A quick divergence from my usual dinosaurs, and I shall talk about big cats today. This is because to my greatest delight, I had discovered today a wonderful book. It is called The Felidæ of Rancho La Brea (Merriam and Stock 1932, Carnegie Institution of Washington publication, no. 422). As the title suggests it goes into details of felids from the Rancho La Brea, in particular Smilodon californicus (probably synonymous with S. fatalis), but also the American Cave Lion, Panthera atrox. The book is full of detailed descriptions, numerous measurements and beautiful figures. However, what really got me excited was, in their description and comparative anatomy of P. atrox, Merriam and Stock (1932) provide identification criteria for the Lion and Tiger, a translation of the one devised by the French palaeontologist Marcelin Boule in 1906. I have forever been looking for a set of rules for identifying lions and tigers and ultimately had to come up with a set of my own with a lot of help fro…

Spinosaurus, the gigantic pangolin of the Cretaceous?

I was made aware of this not long ago - it kind of looks creepy, but it gave me an idea:

Did Spinosaurus walk like a pangolin?

That is, with it's hands low to the ground but not touching the ground - so no knuckle walking - and maintaining balance as a biped...

This pangolin seems to maintain balance on its hind legs even though, on cursory glance, its centre of mass seems too far forward for that.

Spinosaurus is supposed to have had a dense femur, so maybe its centre of gravity was farther back than you'd think from overall proportions. Maybe the sail helped tip the scale back?

...or maybe it was a giant ant-eater? Those giant claws look particularly suited to breaking open termite mounds?

Who knows. This is me being silly, but thought it was hilarious enough to share...