Mystery Skull

Can you tell what it is?I don’t know how Patrick saw it.  It was a fair distance off the trail wedged in the root mass of an upturned tree.  I can’t imagine how it got there and why we didn’t find other bones.  Just this.

We were in the hemlock stand on the far side of Spatterdock pond where the ground rolls with pits and mounds.  We had to walk a balance beam formed by another fallen tree (and not fall into the puddles and muck) to get to the root mass to see the skull in the spot where it was discovered.

After extraction, I took this photo in my hand for scale:

Can you tell now?

OK, Nature Geeks…. What are your guesses?

(You can say anything…  I don’t know the real answer.  If I were out with kids, I KNOW what they would say:  Dinosaur!)

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12 thoughts on “Mystery Skull

  1. This animal looks like it died quite sometime ago. I wish the teeth were present. Does it look like it was a rodent? The skull looks too big for a rabbit…I’ll guess groundhog as well.

    Tom

  2. I’m thinking a rodent. I can’t see much of the teeth, but the teeth I can see don’t look raccoon-ish to me. Rabbit or groundhog, and given where it was found, groundhog seems the most likely guess to me.

    Carolyn

  3. How come nobody is saying porcupine? Is there something inherently non-porcupine about it? It’s definitely rodentish… It’s hard to see in my photo, but way in the back of the first photo is a very flat, rodent-like molar. Definitely not raccoon.

  4. It’s difficult to say from these photos–great photos but they are limited in the information that is critical for id….

    This does appear to be a rodent skull but we don’t have a clear view of the incisors or incisor sockets. I think the apparent space between the molars and the incisors in the first image (if the incisors are to the back of the image) points to rodentia….

    There are only about 3 rodents of the size of this skull in your area that I can think of off the top of my head beaver, porcupine and woodchuck.

    I don’t think the skull is a porcupine. Here’s an image:
    http://www.istockphoto.com/file_closeup/object/4178105_porcupine_skull.php?id=4178105

    Notice the shorter skull and the different “crest” for muscular attachment at the back of the skull.

    Likewise with a beaver skull:

    http://www.science-art.com/image.asp?id=661&search=1

    On the other hand from what I see in the image the woodchuck seems to fit:

    http://www.discoverlife.org/nh/tx/Vertebrata/Mammalia/Sciuridae/Marmota/monax/#Description

    BW

  5. By chance I happen to have a groundhog skull in excellent condition that I found in the woods near my home, and when I hold it up to the screen and compare with your picture it’s a match. The sketches on the link provided by ksbioteacher also match up very well. The cool thing about the one I found is that two front teeth are intact and curl back a long way (about twice the amount of the exposed tooth) into the front of the skull and easily slide in and out.

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