Name that beast!

One for the comparative anatomists out there – to what animal does this skeleton belong? And how can you tell?

Photo by J. Codd.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Name that beast!

  1. Oliver Wearing

    Aptenodytes forsteri, the Emperor Penguin?

    • Oliver Wearing

      The shape of the sternum amongst others suggest a bird. The angle of the leg bones seem to suggest that whoever built this model wanted it to look like it stood upright?

  2. David Pettifer

    Looks like a penguin of some kind?

  3. David Pettifer

    Upright posture, pronounced sternum for attachment of wing muscles

  4. Well done to Oliver and David – the skeleton is a king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus. Quite rightly both identified the keeled sternum (where the major flight muscles, the pectoralis and supracoracoideus, attach) as a hallmark feature of the bird skeleton (although the keel is not found in the ratite species!). Despite the fact that penguins cannot fly like most other birds, they do ‘fly’ underwater and so require large flight muscles for propulsion.

    The features that clearly mark out this skeleton as belonging to a penguin lie in the forelimb and shoulder bones. The scapula is much broader and paddle-like than in the ‘average’ bird, so that muscles involved in moving the wing through water (more viscous than air, of course) can be much larger. Also the structure of the wing is characteristically flattened to form a flipper for efficient underwater locomotion. For the keen-eyed anatomist, you might notice that no alula, or ‘thumb’ , is present in the wing skeleton.

    For more detailed explanation see http://fossilpenguins.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/tour-of-the-penguin-skeleton-the-phalanges/

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