Wild Animals/Weird skull


Top view
Top view  

Side view
Side view  
OK so I found a strange looking skull at the beach while digging in the sand. This skull is pretty small about the size of a thumb. My concern is that it has no jaw or at least a jaw that cannot be removed. Its basicaly fused to the skull. I've never seen this type of skull before, and I've done some research on it but no luck. Perhaps you could help me out here. I found this in Santa Barbara in California.I only sent the top and side views because I can't upload any additional, but just let me know if u need any other view.

Dear Kevin

Thank you for your question and for the photos.

You have found a vertebra, rather than a skull. In the side view, the projection at the bottom would have fitted into the next vertebra. The area in the middle of the top view is the spinous process, which is just underneath the skin. I think the vertebra is one of the neck (cervical) vertebrae and that it comes from a mammal. Unfortunately, I am not able to tell you which species it belongs to. I suggest that you take it to a local museum.  

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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