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Canine Skull Fossil Found, But What Is It?


Lt.Mike

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Hello to all! This would be my first post and what motivated me to join the forum is because we have found something I just can't nail down.

On a recent fossiling trip with my family my daughter found a skull in a stream bank located in central NJ where shark teeth are the common find. In fact this skull fragment was partially exposed in the stream bank just above a layer of gravel that was producing sharks teeth. I was solidly set in and only exposed because of recent storm water erosion.The stream bank was a sharp cut out from the landside and this fossil was approximately six feet below the surface layer.

I've compared the skull to modern day coyote and wolf skulls.

The brain cavity is larger than a coyotes and while about the same as a wolfs the top fin is about 2-3 times the size of a wolfs.

I went on a comparison google photo search and the closest match I can find is from a dire wolf! Do I dare say this is what it is?

Ok, maybe not, but I am thinking this is an ancestor of todays wolf.

Here are the shots. what do you think?

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Here it is next to a coyote skull

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I'm 54 and have been fossiling since I was about nine and this is one of the cooler things I've seen found. :thumbsu:

Thanks for checking this out,

Mike.

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calhounensis

I'm interested to see what others say about this find. The parietal/occipital area does look similar to Canis dirus.

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Harry Pristis

Dimensions are everything when dealing with wolf skull. I think you should take it to a museum and have it identified there.

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calhounensis

Harry nailed it here, I've always had issues with identifying Canidae. There are so many varieties in the last several thousand years. A few millimeters makes a difference.

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I have seen skulls of Indian (Native American) domesticated dogs that look very similar to this. I'm not 100% certain but I think that's what you have. Still very old and a great find.

Mikey

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Nice find. What stream was it found in? County/town? Maybe that would help id it too. I agree with everyone else. You should take it to the state museum. Maybe email the photos to the paleo dept. keep us posted :)

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While the morphologies are very close, the backwards projection of the inion does not appear pronounced enough to be Dire Wolf. You lack the palate, so establishing the horizontal orientation of the fragment is tricky, though. My tentative identification would be Canis lupus familiaris. In-hand comparison is critical.

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Considering where the skull fragment came from and the preponderance of historical refuse commonly washed into the stream deposits I will go with Rich's assesment. I've been collecting bones from Monmouth Country streams as a study of how they wear and age in those conditions. The appearance of the skull will in no way indicate it's age. I have many from the same area found mixed among the fossils. They may look old but they simply aren't. A very common occurance.

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The parietal/occipital area is more elevated than the Canis dirus(dire wolf)/Canis lupus(gray/grey wolf) has,so my thought is Canis lupus familiaris(domestic dog).

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Thanks for the input guys. First chance I get I'll bring it to a museum for further ID.

I'm comfortable that its fossilized from what I see and where it was found.

Mike.

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