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What cat skull is this?

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by nuclearjunky, May 16, 2016.

  1. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    Hi,

    someone in Europe sells a supposed mountain lion skull ( with a price for two, just to mention):
    http://www.detaxidermieshop.nl/schedel-poema

    I am a bit sceptical about whether this actually is a mountain lion due to grooved canines and shape of jaw. I believe this to actually be a female African leopard. Am I right?
     
  2. lokireptiles

    lokireptiles Member

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    This is a larger mountain lion. From Montana from my collection

    [​IMG]

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  3. lokireptiles

    lokireptiles Member

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    On that website, the price is just under $450 when converted to US currency.

    Judging from prices on hide and fur it's not too far off from current Retail pricing in the US.

    If it was an imported item taxes and duties along with paper work would have increased the price a bit.
     
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Grooved teeth would tell me that it's a leopard as well. Skull also looks to be too long for a cougar.
     
  5. lokireptiles

    lokireptiles Member

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    The resolution of the picture isn't good enough on my monitor to see if it's actually grooves or repaired cracked (split) teeth
     
  6. lokireptiles

    lokireptiles Member

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    Maybe Great Skulls? Adam will know.
     
  7. The nose/snout looks a bit long for a cougar IMO. Not sure about the teeth - hard to tell if those are cracks or grooves in the canines. The canines also seem kind of long for a cougar as well, even though the left upper seems to be a little worn on the tip. I'd lean towards it being a leopard.
     
  8. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    Doh, I was hoping nobody would call me out on this one!

    Well, at 19.5cm, it is pretty small - too small for lion or tiger. It is NOT a puma. (Nor is it a snow leopard or clouded leopard either.)

    I'm guessing female leopard (70%) but it COULD be a female jaguar (30%).
     
  9. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    Doh, I was hoping nobody would call me out on this one!

    Well, at 19.5cm, it is pretty small - too small for lion or tiger. It is NOT a puma. (Nor is it a snow leopard or clouded leopard either.)

    I'm guessing female leopard (70%) but it COULD be a female jaguar (30%).
     
  10. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    BTW, the grooved canine thing is a bit of a myth. I have leopards, jaguars and pumas with AND without grooves. Not sure where that idea came from, but it is a statistical likelihood at best.
     
  11. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    Thanks for the answers.
    I also considered it being a small jaguar. But then, canines are typically more conical and broader. I think the skull is of a mature animal. This, it would be quite small for jaguar as they are rarely below 20 cms.
     
  12. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Actually, I have seen the grooved canine bit listed on a US F&W database on a page of information available to agents to help them with identifying skulls that they find in transit or during searches. Not sure where it originated though.
     
  13. Margaret Sims appears to be the source of the grooved canines idea.

    Sims, M.E. 2005. Identification of Mid-size Cat Skulls. Identification Guides for Wildlife Law Enforcement No. 7. USFWS, National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, Ashland, OR.

    Sims, M.E. 2012. Cranial morphology of five felids: Acinonyx jubatus, Panthera onca, Panthera pardus, Puma concolor, Unica unica. Russian Journal of Theriology 11(2): 157-170.
     
  14. mroldharry

    mroldharry Member

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    More like a leopard by its size.
     
  15. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    Yeah, I've seen the grooved bit a whole bunch, but I've seen hundreds of jaguar and leopard skulls and know that it is not a binary trait. You can believe what you read, if you like, or you can look at a whole bunch of skulls.
     
  16. Kendall

    Kendall Active Member

    Great Skulls are you saying a sample size of 11-14 does not make it true?
     
  17. I never believe anything I read in a peer review journal. I only believe what an authority tells me without supporting evidence. I believe the earth is flat, heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones, and the moon is made of green cheese. (Mom told me about that last one.)

    Seriously, though, the many publications of Dr. Sims are used by the USFWS and other agencies in the enforcement of wildlife laws. If her claims are false then it sure would be nice if a scientist with access to hundreds felid skulls could publish a refutation based on a larger sample size. In the mean time, if I come across a cougar skull with prominently grooved canines, I will not be selling it across state lines.
     
  18. I have handled at least three jaguar skulls and not one of them had grooves on the canines, and they weren't ancient animals with heavily worn teeth either. Also have handled many lion skulls and some have grooves and some do not, and the couple of tiger skulls I have seen did have grooves. A liger skull did not, but a tigon did, and of a couple of ti-ligers one had them and one did not. But I've never seen a cougar skull with them. IMO the grooves are a characteristic that *can* be found in panthera cats (as well as some small cats, like bobcat and lynx) but aren't always present in those species.
    That's kind of like the characteristic that a wild canid (like a wolf, fox or coyote) will rock back and forth on a flat surface on the lower jaw but domestic dogs won't. This is generally true but not true 100% of the time. Once in a while you will find a dog that will rock, and rarely, a wild canid that won't.

    So I can see where it could be a helpful identifier (along with other features) but it isn't 100% proof by itself.
     
  19. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    As a scientist (with plenty of peer reviewed papers myself, thank you very much), I never "believe" anything at all! Belief is a religious act. I have no problem with people relying on these keys. As a morphologist, it is clear that most traits have some probabilistic likelihood, and very few are truly either 100% present or 100% absent. I have never studied Dr. Sims' work, but I'm sure it is fine. It really wouldn't be hard to check those statements (e.g., I spend a lot of time at the Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History and document these statistically). The groove thing is particularly suspect - some canines are deeply grooved, others are lightly grooved, etc. But I just don't think it is worth the time. If you guys think it is, then maybe we could update those traits. (I think other aspects of the canines are more telling for the difference between leopards and jaguars - namely, jaguars seem to have more robust canines in general, and I would bet that they could be differentiated more consistently with measures of the length and width than presence or absence of the groove.)

    Maybe I'll get one of my graduate students to check this out some day.

    By the way, those two citations you gave for Dr. Sims' work are NOT peer reviewed references. The first is just some kind of report, and the second is from a suspect journal. None of that means that they have no value (from a skim, they both look useful), and peer review in and of itself does not make science "fact", but since you mentioned the peer review part, I thought I'd throw that out there.