This was a week of firsts for Friday Mystery Object: the first time it’s not been hosted on Zygoma, and the first time answers have been submitted in verse! I’m very impressed.
On Friday I gave you this little beauty to identify:
Now, I have a confession to make: I’m a mammal person. I know a bit about birds, and very little about reptiles. But I picked this specimen because Paolo hadn’t done a reptile in a while (and I thought we’d had enough of birds lately!), and it was a nice-looking skull.
Naively, I assumed that because it was an exotic creature I wasn’t very familiar with, that meant it might be difficult for others to guess. How foolish.
henstridgesj honed in on the correct family at 9.04am on Friday,and by 1.44pm had it down to the right genus. Others soon followed suit: Namnezia had the right common name, and Dave Godfrey got it to the correct species: the South American lizard Tupinambis teguixin (or gold tegu).
Well, maybe. The taxonomy of the genus Tupinambis seems to be in a constant state of flux, and is consequently somewhat confusing. T. teguixin now refers to the Columbian gold tegu (formerly called T. nigropunctatus), but it used to refer to the Argentinian black and white tegu (now T. merianae). This taxonomic rejigging followed a re-examination of the many historic descriptions and namings of these animals by Avila-Pires in 1995¹. The skull in the Horniman’s collection is labelled as T. teguixin, but it is quite old (possibly acquired as early as the 1920s – can you remember, Paolo?), so it could potentially be the Argentinian black and white tegu, which was then called T. teguixin, rather than the gold tegu. A little more research may be needed to confirm the identification.
So I’m afraid for now the mystery remains unsolved! And on that happy note, I’ll take my leave. Thank you all for playing! Normal service will resume next week back over on Zygoma.
¹Avila-Pires, T.C.S. 1995. Lizards of Brazilian Amazon (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoologische Verhandelingen, Vol. 299, No. 1, p.1-706