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What is this??

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Pandion haliaetus, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. http://www.ebay.com/itm/UNKNOWN-SKULL-FOSSIL-Miocene-Era-/122056913555?hash=item1c6b28b293:g:30EAAOSwARZXlGS4 Does anyone know what type of skull this is? It looks almost cat-like from the top but it has the wrong amount of cheek teeth...
     
  2. AliciaG

    AliciaG Museum taxidermist and exhibit preparator

    I've seen many of these over the years. I used to do a lot of fossil prep for a dealer out here and we called them "Chinese mud balls". There were a lot of these Miocene & Pleistocene mammals coming out of China in the 90s, but you see them less frequently now that China has cracked down on fossil export. Since the tag lists "Asia" as the origin, that makes me suspect even more it's from China (since it would be illegal to sell it as Chinese). These skulls are composites, with the majority of the skull being from the same individual, but with many parts mudded-in to make it look complete. I see hyena teeth in there, and the skull looks like it is mostly hyena, but it's hard to tell without having it in hand. When we came across these, we would deconstruct them and sort the parts out to be identified. If you look closely, these skulls almost always have their canines pulled out so they look longer (as seen in this skull), and the gum line and teeth will be filled with mud or plaster to create the illusion that the skull is still in matrix, and mask the junction between tooth and skull. Another common feature, also seen here, is that the zygomatic arches are patched together, sometimes from long bones or ribs ground down to the right shape, and the cranium will belong to another skull (look for the plaster seam). Sorry for the bad news, but the skull isn't what it seems. You can find some neat teeth, and parts of animals you didn't expect (sometimes really neat stuff you didn't expect) if you take it apart. It's a fun puzzle to solve in the end :)

    I'm not sure if this skull is in your possession or not, but if you provide scale reference and some more detailed pics, I may be able to help you ID some of the critters in there, at least to a genus level.
     

  3. No, this skull is not in my collection. But that is a very interesting bit of facts there! Thank you for the information!
     
  4. AH7

    AH7 New Member

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    Yup, this is a classic Chinese amalgamation. It is mostly (if not all) hyaenid.
     
  5. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    First, I though of Giant Short Faced Bear. But based on the other photos, I can say it is
    Definitely some kind of prehistoric hyena.
     
  6. nuclearjunky

    nuclearjunky Member

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    I can confirm what AliciaG says. One day, my father gave me the jaw bone of a cave bear as Christmas gift that had been sold at a fairly high price at a mineral fair. It looked perfect, real, yes even it felt real.
    Then , I accidentially dropped it and it broke. I was very disappointed to learn that about 70 percent of it were made of some kind of epoxy resin, also to be recognized by the typical smell when broken. Inner parts of the jaw were filled with dough. Even the teeth were mostly not real what has been invisible when the jaw was intact.

    This experience led me to never buy fossilized mammal bones: they are astronomously expensive and may be fake.