Stumping Mr. Nature

Pin on bone, tooth, claw, and horn

Petty’s friend emailed her a picture of a small skull that a squirrel was carrying around her yard today, and she wanted to know what kind of skull it was. So she asked me to identify it. All those hours of my childhood spent poring over Mark Trail comics in the Sunday newspaper have to be good for something.

My first thought was “cat,” although the skull seemed kind of small for a cat’s. (That’s a cat skull, above.) It obviously belonged to a carnivore–long, sharp fangs, large muscle attachments for a powerful bite. I was able to rule out skunk, badger, and weasel. What other kinds of small carnivores do they have in Florida? Everything was saying “cat” to me except the size: only three inches long.

I have to admit I’m stumped. Of course, Florida is tricky for the amateur zoologist because of all the exotic animals that have been introduced there. It’s not a mongoose. What else have they got running around there? Or is it really just the skull of an unusually small cat?

If any of you out there live in Florida and would like to pinch-hit for Mr. Nature, please be my guest.

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