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My pig skull


When I met Mrs Powell at the Scottish Seabird Centre last year, we swapped some skulls. (I have written about one of the skulls I swapped her here, and wrote about the seal and puffin skulls she gave me back). The other main skull that she gave me was this pig skull. I had wanted a pig skull for a while, and it was one of the skulls I said I wanted to get in 2011. When I wrote that I wanted one, I thought I would have to get a pig head from a butchers, but I was pleased when Mrs Powell said she had one.

This skull is 24cm long which is longer than the one on Skullsite, but even so, I think it is still a juvenile. The sutures on the back of the skull (the cracks coming up from the spine hole in the picture below) aren't fully fused yet so the plates of the skull are still growing.

Adult pigs have a dental formula of 3:1:4:3 for top and bottom which means that on each side of the mouth there are 3 incisors, one canine, four premolars and three molars. The incisors are much bigger and thicker than those on deer and the tooth is the same width as the root, which is different to deer where the tooth is wider and sharper than the root. On this skull the adult third incisor is just emerging. 

There is a big cap between the first premolar and the second premolar, and then the second and third are close together. There are only two molars through, but there is a gap at the back of the jaw where the third is about to come through.

UPDATE: I made a mistake but Mikolaj Lisowski pointed it out on the Jakes Bones Facebook Page. The mistake was that I thought the deciduous (baby tooth) pre-molar 4 was molar 1. Here is a correct picture of it. There are four baby pre-molars and one molar with two molars still to come through. Mr Lisowski thinks this means the pig was about six months old.

The molars are very strange and look broken and rough at the tips but I think they are meant to be like that. There are no brown rings like you get on the teeth of sheep, deer and cows. The jaw is big and thick especially at the tip where the two halves are fused together in a big bit of bone. The only other skulls I have where the mandibles are joined naturally are badger and monkeys.

The skull is distinctive because of the thick jaw, and the slope from the forehead to the snout. The earbones are weird and come out behind the zygomatic arch. There is a big groove from the jaw up to the top of the head for the jaw muscles but there is no saggital crest, so the muscles must attach to a thin part of the skull at the back of the braincase.

Here's a pig that I saw when I was at Auchingarrich. Pig heads actually look a lot like pig skulls which isn't always true of all animals.

This was a great swap. Thank you Mrs Powell !

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HenstridgeSJ said...

Another very interesting post Jake. I always learn something new from you!

Rhea said...

What a great post! I understand your conversational-style explanations much better than osteology reference books, which often sound like mathematical jargon to me. Thank you for an interesting and informative post on your pig skull. You have a great blog. Keep it up!

Jake said...

Thank you !

Kat said...

Wow! It looks great! I'm on a search for a moose with antlers (I have one without), a bear and a pig. You wouldn't think a pig would be hard to find, but it is! Congrats!

Jake said...

Here the best place is a butchers or abatoir for the head, then rot it down.

Heath Barnes said...

Very nicely put together Jake ! keep it up son. Regards Heath ( Historyofabeck)

Bones de Haan said...

Great post! I found a jaw bone on the New Brighton beach here in New Zealand; the first bone I have ever found on this beach (and I have been walking it for over 30 years!!). I guessed it was from a pig but was able to positively identify it and its age (between 6-9months)from your post.

Jake said...

Cool ! Glad it helped !

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