Yesterday while we were visiting my nephews, we showed my brother the pictures of the skull we found on our bush walk – he’s a farmer, and a hunter, so I thought he might be able to tell us what it was.
Like me, he was a bit unsure! His first thought was possum also, but he followed the same steps as I did, and saw that most possums have sharper front teeth in their upper jaw than what was on our skull, so we looked up a bunch of different animal skulls, but couldn’t find anything close enough to call. Our next step was to look at a skull identification key* and tried to work it out that way – but because we didn’t have the lower half of the jaw that made it a bit harder, also that one didn’t have a section for marsupials.
We went back to googling images, and found this website which is pretty awesome – it does ‘Friday Mystery Objects’ and #159 looked pretty similar to our skull. It was there that we realized it must be a common brush-tailed possum that our skull belonged to. The longer, sharper teeth are located in the lower jaw, so if we’d had that, we probably would have been able to figure it out a lot easier.
I know Ivy certainly enjoyed this kind of exploration, though she wished it had been a dinosaur of some kind. I’m looking forward to more explorations of this kind where we find things, and then try to figure out what they are. It’s not only a great way to learn new knowledge, but also to teach the kids various ways of finding out information that they want to know.
Big thanks to my little brother who took the time to search and find the answer – though, I kind of think he was just as intrigued as we were about the skull 😉
*I’ve since also found this Wildlife ID tracker sheet which was quite neat – will have to look for something similar for NZ as it might be fun to try and identify more stuff!