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Big box of bones #2: The snake skull


BIG NOTE FROM JAKE: In 2013, when my book was being fact-checked, Paolo Viscardi, my contributing editor, noticed this was a python skull, not a boa skull as I first thought, so I've updated this post in December 2013 by crossing out the wrong bits.

Last week I wrote about how I got a great box of skulls through the post as a present, and that I was going to write about them over several weeks. This week I am going to write about this fantastic snake skull.

This is a very different type of skull than almost almost all the other ones I have. That makes it cool because it's different, but difficult because there is nothing I have to compare it to.

The first big difference are the teeth. They are not like any teeth I have seen before. There are outer rows of teeth and inner rows of teeth. They are as sharp as pins, and they are all the same shape, and they are curled back. There are 34 in the top part of the skull, and ten in the jaw (there was only one).

The teeth are hooked like a hook you would catch a fish with. If this snake bit you, it would be difficult to get it off you, and the teeth would go through your skin.

On most of my skulls, like deer, or sheep, or cats or foxes, the bottom jaw is thick and solid and hinged. On those skulls the skulls aren't exactly the shape of the animal head either. The bottom jaws on a snake can go really wie apart so they can eat things much bigger than their head.

Ben Williams, who was the person who sent me these skulls, thought this might have been a boa constrictor skull. (UPDATE, December 2013: It's not, it's a python). I've tried to find out, but I'm not too sure. I think it's the right type of snake skull, though. It is 75mm long (the condylobasal length) and about 35mm wide ( the zygomatic width). This is what a boa constrictor looks like:

Someone found this skull in their attic, which must have been a shock for them ! They thought maybe their grandfather had collected it years ago from another country and left it there.

Next weekend I am going to write about two very special skulls that were in the parcel !

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