Out here in the mid german woods, the kids found this skull:

enter image description here

Now we would like to figure out what it is. Started to look at various google image search results for all kinds of animals that came to our mind, but not only due to bad reception this takes long and lead to no result.

So what is a good structured way to start detrmining what this is?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What is the size of the skull? Could you measure it or make a photo with a euro coin next to it? Looking at it's teeth, it looks like a herbivore. $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    Sep 17, 2016 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, do you want people here to identify it or do you want to know how to identify an unidentified mammal skull? $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Sep 17, 2016 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @kmm: ideally I would like to have some information that can guide me to do such identification myself in the future; the skull here should serve as a kind of example people could explain some method, so in the end it should be identified here $\endgroup$
    – PlasmaHH
    Sep 17, 2016 at 12:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And about results, it must be a young wild boar (Sus scrofa) or a domestic pig (please notice the very small canine). $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Sep 17, 2016 at 14:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Can you add photos of the occlusal surfaces of the teeth? $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Sep 17, 2016 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


If you're serious about this (and it appears you are), you'll benefit by starting with a Comparative Osteology book or webiste that discusses all the various characteristics of skulls that give you clues to exactly what you're dealing with.

This page on Amazon has a variety of such books. Pages such as this one begin with the basics and references help you to pursue the subject further.

On your specimen, although the missing teeth would be very helpful, important identifying features include the very large percentage of the cranium given over to the masseters, the eye socket placement, the size, the jaw shape, etc.


Teeth are really important features for mammal identification.

The types of teeth gives an idea of the kind of food they eat.

In the skull you show, I guess that the tooth surface is far from being a "flat" grinder (which would be typical for an herbivorous, especially if old), but neither is there a sharp scissors-like structure (which would be typical of a carnivore). Therefore I will bet the animal is omnivorous.

The size, number, disposition and diversity of the teeth (dental formula) can further help. Some comments pointed to the presence of small nascent canines.

You can then look at a list of mammals that are living in the region of interest, filter it by size, and check what kind of dental formula they have.


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