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Mysterious Cat Skull

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by nuclearjunky, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    Hey guys,

    I got an old cat skull from a UK collection from the 1920s. It originates from somewhere in China as I was told from pre-owner.

    Unfortunatly, it is not documented what species of cat it is.
    The skull measures nearly 20 centimetres (8 inch) long and is about 13 centimetres (5,2 inch) wide.
    Most sutures are fused; thus it must have been a fully grown or older animal.
    Canines are grooved.

    Maybe you could help me identify the species/subspecies?
    Thank you very much in advance.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    Further Pictures..
     

    Attached Files:


  3. Leopard (P. pardus) I think, but Great Skulls? will told you for sure.
     
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Possibly a Snow leopard.
     
  5. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    Snow leopard would be Great because I was actually Looking for one for a Long time
     
  6. Looks like a regular spotted leopard to me (probably the Asian sub-species if it came from China, could even be an Amur leopard but I don't know how you would tell those apart from the regular kind), also looks like someone glued the upper canines in backwards.
     
  7. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    Definitely NOT a snow leopard - the frontal is higher and the rostrum relatively smaller in snow leopards. I am looking at your pictures on my embarrassingly small phone so I can't say for sure, but from what I can tell, I'm 90% sure it's a leopard. It is rather small for a tiger, and if it really is Chinese, then it obviously is not a jaguar (plus jaguars are more robust than your skull looks on my tiny screen).

    One other thing - there is something wonky about the canines. I think that all four of them are lower canines! (the curve on those upper canines is more severe than it should be.) Does it look possible that the canines have been replaced?
     
  8. There's definitely something odd about the upper canines, I thought that maybe they were backwards (right and left reversed, which would give them an outward sticking tusk-like appearance) but maybe they are lowers from some other skull. Either way they are in wrong or are not original to the skull.
     
  9. Snow leopards are obvious in how massive their lower canines are. This one is regular looking, and the upper teeth do not look right at all.

    Still, fun to obtain such a skull!
     
  10. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Rather than waste a comment by not offering anything helpful I'll put up these three pics for comparison. I don't use teeth to judge as they are oftentimes missing, replacements (right or wrong) or in this case, not even placed properly it seems. The frontals are distinct in all three species below. Your skull does not seem to have the really dished in face of the snow but the frontals do not look like an Asian leopard either. That is assuming it *is* a type of leopard. It is not round enough to be a cheetah. If the teeth in the skull are the correct ones it would not be a jaguar due to the grooves.

    These articles show the leopard and snow leopard in detail. Clouded is not included here but compare yours to the pictures and see if it helps. http://zmmu.msu.ru/rjt/articles/ther11_2%20157_170%20Sims.pdf and http://www.fws.gov/lab/idnotes/IDG7_CatSkulls.pdf

    Leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard in that order below.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    Thank you very much for the answers so far. So, it still remains a mystery. I now found a pic of a skull looking identical regarding size, shape and even sutures on the web: http://www.tennants.co.uk/Catalogue/Lots/47950.aspx
    It is supposed to be a snow leopard, but it doesn't have a dished face either.

    I also realized that there is something wrong with the teeth. The theory that there are lower instead of upper canines glued in is interesting.

    Regarding the papers by Seawolf, the skull seems to have characteristics of Jaguar (slighly convex profile, but far too small with a condylobasal length of 17,5cms / 7 inches and not from America, ungrooved canines), snow leopard (broader frontal with dip, grooved canines, but only slighly concave) and common leopard (grooved canines).
     
  12. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    It is NOT a snow leopard - as I said before, snow leopards have high frontals and rather gracile rostral regions and jaws. Not at all like your skull.

    It is certainly NOT a cheetah - they have much shorter faces - or a puma - their length to height ratio is lower than your specimen. Also certainly not a clouded leopard - those are relatively longer with more prominent chins - even if your canines have been replaced.

    Now that I am seeing it on my good office computer screen, I am even more convinced that it is a leopard; it is too small for lion or tiger and probably too small for jaguar too. Even if the canines are replaced, the alveoli appear too small for jaguar alveoli.

    If this were in my collection, I would certainly label it leopard, but would be less sure about the subspecies (I haven't studied the differences within the species enough to distinguish them - though it is a very morphologically variable taxon).
     
  13. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    That would leave the Amur, Indochinese and North Chinese subspecies if it truly came from China. All I can find regarding differences refer to the coat color and patterns. Not any skeletal differences.
     
  14. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    Yeah, and there is so much intraspecific variation in leopards - even at the subspecies level - that it would be very hard to discern skull differences anyway. Add to that the weirdness about the teeth, and I'm not sure anyone would be able to key the subspecies without genetics.
     
  15. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    So, you guys agree on Panthera pardus?

    To make things complicated: I now showed the skull to a museum guy who dealt with identifying skulls for a long time. He said, it is a -snow leopard.

    So, I have spent hours now to study the skull and compare it with comparative zoology study findings. When I studied the auditory bullae region in the first paper posted by Seawolf, it showed characteristics of leopard and jaguar.

    Then, I compared the skull to the drawings in "Mammals of the Soviet Union". There, about 60 percent of characteristics are the same as in the snow leopard skull shown there, 40 percent are rather like Amur leopard.

    I tried to repair the teeth and removed the canines. It seems as if at least one pair is not original.
     
  16. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Isn't it fun? :)
     
  17. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    It is NOT a snow leopard. I am staring at three of them and have studied dozens. The frontal is way too low and the chin is too curved. Study all you want, but it just ain't a snow leopard.
     
  18. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    So Great Skulls, do you think it might be a snow leopard, or is it a definite no
     
  19. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    I'm on the fence! :)

    I really should get better about telling my opinion and then shutting up! Last year (or was it longer ago?) I got burned when I thought I could tell lions and tigers apart for sure. FAIL! But snow leopards are some of the most obvious cats - up there with cloudeds and cheetahs. And this ain't it!
     
  20. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    LOL

    I'm gonna say I seriously doubt that it's a jaguar. I don't think anyone would put leopard teeth in a jag skull. Teeth there are grooved so it is *not* a jag. :)