Because it's the weekend...

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Test your skills and impress us all by identifying the object! Dammit, missed Atomic Betty...

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The mystery skull from the other day is indeed that of a charadriiform: more specifically that of an auk and, most specifically of all, that of a Razorbill Alca torda. Well done Dartian and Kryptos18, and well done everyone else for trying. I admit that I deliberately showed the skull in 'front…
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Dodo...or a Terror Bird from South America.

By Anthony Docimo (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

Is it the skull of a razorbill Alca torda?

Looks like it's been beat up a bit. Are there any birds that lack a postorbital bar in life?

I would say the skull of a gull (Larus) or similar...

By Sergio Pérez (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

A great auk? (or a ropen...)

By Abindarraez (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

Puffin?

AFAIK no Dodo skulls have preserved rhamphoteca.

Looks like either the skull of a razorbill or a griffon vulture... but in either case, it would have to be missing the beak sheath on the lower bill.

By Kryptos18 (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

is it a lammergeyer skull?

At first I thought it was an eagle of some kind, but puffin now seems more likely to me. I can't say which species though, but probably Fratercula arctica.

It's not a dodo. Has to be a falconiform or New World vulture.

Are there any birds that lack a postorbital bar in life?

What? All of Neornithes, if not, like, Euornithes lacks it.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

Aquila chrysaetos ?

I'm in the Puffin camp, too...

By David Callahan (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

The bird has two features which prevent it from being a raptor, at least: It lacks a palpebral projection lateral to the orbit, and it possesses distinct frontal fossae, which is distinctive enough to be features typical to procellariiforms (and sphenisciforms, if I recall correctly). The rhamphotheca, even from this angle, shows ornamental ridges/groove on the surface, which is definately procellariiform/sphenisciform. So, I'd say penguin or puffin/auk, and likely an Auk, in my eyes.

By Jaime A. Headden (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

Razorbill? I don't think it's a puffin.

Auklet?

By William Miller (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

It's not a boneless aquatic pterosaur because this thing had, you know, a headbone.

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 24 Jan 2009 #permalink

Some species of owl, the beak should be a bit more pointed.

By Erik Knatterud (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

Oh, man, yes. Thanks, Jaime. It's got to be Fratercula.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

I think it's a condor, because it's a big-ass skull (and condors are the heaviest flying birds) it's got a raptoral hooked beak, and it's obviously recent, not a fossil (my opinion, for whatever it's worth.)

By Raymond Minton (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

Cathartes aura or Sarcorhampus papa, more problably the later

but don`t know if the red beak of king vulture remains on death, if not, is an andean condor...

I think it's some kind of Cathartid, and second Edgar's suggestion that it's probably Sarcorhamphus papa.

By Pete Buchholz (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

Actually, the beak is way too small for Fratercula. So I'll just jump on the cathartid bandwagon.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis).

Immediate impression was of an auk and most like a Razorbill (Alca torda). However the skull's overall robustness and the laterally thicker, blunt-tipped beak (Razorbills not surprisingly have a more laterally compressed razor-like beak) along with the multiple thin white lines running vertically down the bill sheath are more characteristic of a Great Auk. Most Razorbills (nominate subspecies?) have a single thicker vertical white stripe on the beak but I believe there is a subspecies that can have multiple thinner striations.

The specimen is not a fossil because it still retains the keratin bill sheath.

By Bill Unzen (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

Harpagornis moorei (Haast's Eagle)? I know Jaime's already ruled out the raptors, but thought I'd go with my gut instinct anyway...

For some reason I thought "skua". Anyways, it's frustrating that few sources have bird skulls figured in a frontal view.

I'm going with Great Auk too.

By Tim Morris (not verified) on 26 Jan 2009 #permalink

You watch Atomic Betty?

What? All of Neornithes, if not, like, Euornithes lacks it.

I'm clearly not up on my tetrapod skull anatomy.

What would the rear margin of the orbit be called, and doesn't it look a rather bit like this skull is missing it?