What animal does this skull belong to?

What animal does this skull belong to?

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This skull was found in Greece, about 40 years ago, possibly in the island of Euboea (there is uncertainty about the area it was found).

The length from nose to the end of horns is 67 cm. The skull's length without the horns is 42 cm. Just for reference, the floor tiles in the pictures have a side of 33cm.

What could this animal be? It does not have to be native to Greece, even though a native animal would be more probable.

Update: The size of the skull points to an animal larger than a goat. It looks more like an antelope, a gazelle, or even a deer. Only deers are native to Greece, however the horns look nothing like deer.

I believe the horns are the key to unlock this mystery.

Its definitely a bovid, most likely an african antelope specifically a Hartebeest or Alcelaphus buselaphus . There are several sub-species but those horns are a dead giveaway. The the horn do vary a bit by sub-species. The Neumann's or Tora hartebeest might be your best bet but I can't be 100% sure. They are all popular hunting trophies since forever and are even kept in some european game reserves so it is not that hard to find there skulls in private hands. Search "hartebeest skull" and you'll find a million of them so you can try for a more exact match.

There is limited information using only the bones and horns. But I suspect that is aKri-kriorCretan goatbased on the reported location and the features of the horns.

Greece is trying to standardize its goat pedigrees by further classifying them based on regional names and features. This could be more specifically a Skopelos goat but I doubt it based on the horns being so short. As you report the length of the horns to be 25cm that puts a lot of evidence as this being aCephalonia/Kefalonia/Kefallonia goatdepending on how you want to spell it. These Cephalonia goats have an average horn length of 25cm.


Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, a family that includes small or medium-size rodents. The squirrel family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including groundhogs), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs amongst other rodents. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa, and were introduced by humans to Australia. [1] The earliest known fossilized squirrels date from the Eocene epoch, and among other living rodent families, the squirrels are most closely related to the mountain beaver and to the dormice.

  • Subfamily Ratufinae
  • Subfamily Sciurillinae
  • Subfamily Sciurinae
    • Tribe Sciurini
    • Tribe Pteromyini
    • Tribe Callosciurini
    • Tribe Funambulini
    • Tribe Xerini
    • Tribe Protoxerini
    • Tribe Marmotini

    Dental and Skull Anatomy of Carnivores, Herbivores, and Omnivores

    An animal’s diet is one of the most important aspects of its biology, and it helps shape the behavior, evolution, and anatomy of the species. The development and arrangement of an animal’s teeth, known as its dentition, reflects this best but an animal’s skull evolves to suit its diet as well. In general, meat-eating carnivores have teeth for tearing and skulls capable of biting with great force, while the plant-eating herbivores have teeth and skulls equipped to grind tough vegetation. Omnivores, which eat both plants and animals, have skulls and dentition suitable for a wide range of foods. These trends are so strong that paleontologists can often determine the diet of an extinct animal from nothing more than a few teeth or skull fragments.


    Carnivorous animals subsist on the flesh, bones, and viscera of other creatures. Most carnivores have long, sharp teeth adapted to ripping, tearing or cutting flesh. While many also possess a few molars in the back of their mouths, and sharp incisors in the front, the most important teeth for carnivores are their long, sharp canine teeth. Carnivores drive these teeth through the flesh of their prey with the help of very large temporalis muscles, which are responsible for pulling the lower jaw upwards and backwards towards the skull. The temporalis muscles attach to the jaw at one end, and the top of the skull at the other end. To help accommodate larger temporalis muscles, some predators have evolved to have an enlarged ridge, termed the sagittal crest that acts as an attachment point or anchor for the muscle. However, the sagittal crest is not exclusively limited to carnivores, as it also appears in many herbivorous primates as well. Additionally, because predators must capture and kill their food before they can eat it, some possess teeth that aid in prey capture. Cats, for example, use their four, long canine teeth to sever their prey’s spinal cord. Some snakes have even more specialized prey-capturing teeth that have evolved into hypodermic-needlelike fangs to deliver venom into their prey.


    Herbivores survive by consuming plant material. While some are indiscriminate grazers that consume a variety of plants, others are specialists that only eat a single plant species. For example, goats may eat virtually any vegetation they encounter, but koalas subsist entirely on eucalyptus plants. In general, plant foods are difficult to breakdown and digest so, many herbivores have several pairs of broad molars that they use to grind leaves, shoots, and twigs. Often, herbivores feature ridged molars and jaws capable of moving sideways. Both of these traits help herbivores to grind their food more effectively. Most herbivores are missing canines entirely, and those that do possess them usually have very small or reduced canines that are not very important for chewing food. Some herbivores have large incisors for clipping or tearing vegetation, but they may only occur on the lower jaw. For example, most deer lack upper incisors and press their lower incisors against their hard, upper palate to rip twigs and branches from trees. By contrast, horses have both upper and lower incisors that they use to clip vegetation cleanly. Some herbivores have evolved teeth that are no longer involved in feeding at all. For example, the large tusks of elephants are highly modified incisors. Elephants use their tusks to manipulate items in their environment, dig for water, and defend themselves. Walruses and some pigs also feature incisors that have evolved into tusks used for foraging, defense, and intra-species combat.


    Omnivores, such as raccoons, opossums, bears, and humans, are animals that consume both plant and animal material. Accordingly, omnivores have dentition, skulls, and teeth suitable for handling a variety of foods. Most omnivores have evolved different types of teeth, located in different parts of their mouths. In such scenarios, each type of tooth excels at handling a different type of food. For example, humans use their incisors and canines for ripping and cutting, and their molars and premolars for grinding. Biologists describe animals with such teeth as having heterodont dentition. By contrast, the teeth of homodont animals, such as iguanas, are all the same shape. As with some carnivores that have teeth to aid in prey capture, some omnivores have teeth that help them to obtain, rather than process, their food. Rodents are famous for their long, continuously growing incisors, which they use to chew through husks, shells and wood. This allows them to access well-protected or difficult-to-access foods, such as nuts. Although rodents are omnivores that occasionally eat insects and scavenge carcasses, plant material makes up the bulk of their diet. Their dentition reflects this as well: Rodents have strong molars, yet lack canine teeth entirely. Instead, rodents have a gap between their incisors and molars, termed a diastema.

    Shocking cells

    The chance discovery of fossilized dinosaur cells began in the Montana badlands in the 1980s, when Chapman University paleontologist Jack Horner, then at Montana’s Museum of the Rockies, discovered a site that contained the bones of several nestling Hypacrosaurus stebingeri. Horner studied the juveniles’ limb bones, but he also found some Hypacrosaurus skulls among the remains. To see the skulls’ inner structure, Horner and his colleagues embedded some of them in resin and then ground them down into sections slightly thicker than strands of hair.

    Classify It!

    To show students that many kinds of organisms can be sorted into groups in many ways using various features to decide which organisms belong to which group.


    Classification systems are not part of nature. Instead, they are frameworks created by biologists to help them understand and describe the vast diversity of organisms and suggest relationships among living things.

    With the help of the Science NetLinks&rsquo Classify It! app, in this lesson students have the opportunity to move from invented classification systems to those used in modern biology. Classify It! is a fun, challenging game that asks students to choose the correct organisms for a specific category. Categories include Living Things That Are Animals all the way to Organisms That Are Protists. As students progress through the game, they can win &ldquoCreature Cards&rdquo that provide interesting information about organisms like a bottle-nosed dolphin and a volvox.

    The first part of the lesson requires students to think about how to classify objects in a classroom in order to review what they may have learned in lower grade levels and check for misconceptions. The rest of the lesson focuses on classification systems used by biologists and demonstrates how living organisms can be classified in a variety of ways. The Classify It! app helps to solidify these concepts for students.

    Students already can understand and appreciate the diversity of life. This comes from their ability to see the patterns of similarity and difference in organisms that permeate the living world. They just need help moving toward a more sophisticated understanding of the features of organisms that connect or differentiate them. This lesson provides students with an opportunity to further their understanding of the classification of organisms.

    Ideas in this lesson are also related to concepts found in these Common Core State Standards:

    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.7 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

    Planning Ahead

    We suggest that you check out the Classify It! app (for Android OS and iOS 10.3.3 or earlier) before conducting this lesson with your students. We also suggest that you load the app onto the mobile devices in your classroom. You can learn more about the app on our Classify It! page.


    Begin the lesson by asking students, &ldquoWhat do you know about classification?&rdquo Accept all answers and encourage students to explain their answers. You should make a list of their ideas on a blackboard, a Smartboard, etc. Students can revisit this list at the end of the lesson. Students may have had some experience with classification activities in elementary school. Get your students to elaborate on what kind of experience they&rsquove had with classification.

    Once you&rsquove gotten a good idea about your students&rsquo understanding of classification, engage them in a classroom activity in which they classify classroom objects into various categories. You could engage them in this activity by starting with a discussion about how hard it would be to do class work in a messy classroom. Explain to students that organizing (or classifying) things helps to make the class run more smoothly. It also helps us to understand the purpose for each thing and the similarities and differences among the objects. Ask students:

    • Imagine if this room were messy. How would we find the supplies we need in order to do our projects and learn?
    • How would classifying the items in this room help us understand them and use them?
    • How would you sort/classify the items to make the best use out of them? Think about how they are similar and how they are different.

    (Answers will vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)

    Now divide your students into groups and ask them to do the activity on the Classify Classroom Objects student sheet. This activity asks students to sort some typical classroom objects into different groups based on their own ideas about how they should be grouped.

    Once students have finished this activity, bring the class back together to go over how each group classified the objects. Ask students these questions:

    • What characteristics did you look at in order to decide in what group to place an object?
    • Did an object fit into more than one group? Why or why not?
    • Do you think that scientists use classification when they are studying things? If so, how and why?
    • Do you think that scientists classify organisms?
    • Why do you think scientists like to classify organisms?
    • Does classifying these organisms into certain groups help scientists study them?
    • How does classification help scientists study organisms? How not?

    (Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)


    In this part of the lesson, students should use the Classify It! app to test their own knowledge about various living organisms and see how they can be classified in many ways.

    Before they do the app, students should use their Classify It student esheet to view the Kingdoms of Life video, from Scholastic. This video provides a brief overview of the five different kingdoms: animal, plant, protist, fungi, and bacteria.

    As students watch this video, they should answer the questions on the Classify It student sheet:

      Why do scientists care about what kingdom an organism would belong to?
        (Scientists use the kingdoms to help them understand the similarities and differences between organisms.)
        (They are animal, plant, protist, fungi, and bacteria.)
        (An animal is any living creature that can breathe and move around. It doesn't make its own food and has many cells.)
        (A plant is any organism that has a green pigment called chlorophyll. It uses chlorophyll to make its own food through photosynthesis. It has many cells but it can&rsquot move around on its own.)
        (Fungi have no roots or flowers, no chlorophyll, and can&rsquot make their own food. They eat decaying matter.)
        (Protists include algae, amoebas, and protozoans. They&rsquore single-celled organisms that live together in colonies. Many can make their own food. Most can only be seen with a microscope.)
        (Bacteria are everywhere. They&rsquore tiny and have only one cell and can only be seen with a microscope. Bacteria can help to break down food and other organisms.)
        (Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.)

      Now that students have learned more about the classification of organisms, they should try to apply that knowledge to the Classify It! app. This app should help students understand that many kinds of organisms can be sorted into groups in many ways using various features to decide which organisms belong to which group, and that classification schemes will vary with purpose.

      You may want to point out to students two common problems with classification before students play the game. First, not everything fits a simple yes/no (or dichotomous) classification key. Second, even classification experts may disagree on how to describe the features of a specific organism.

      The app is divided into three modes: Easy, Intermediate, Advanced. The questions for each mode progress in difficulty such that the questions and organisms featured in the Easy mode are appropriate for students at the upper elementary level while those in the Intermediate and Advanced modes are more appropriate for middle-school students.

      When students access the app, they&rsquoll see that they can add themselves in as a player by going to &ldquoChange Player.&rdquo They can choose their own avatar and type in a name for it. Students can choose to play all three modes of the game in order and try to accumulate all of the Creature Cards in the game or they can choose to just do certain modes.

      If you want students to play all the way through the game, this can take quite a bit of time. One way to get around that would be to assign students to play just one mode and play to win the Creature Cards for that mode. Students will use the Creature Cards in the Assessment for the lesson.

      As students play the game, they should answer these questions on the Classify It student sheet:

      • What characteristics did you consider to help you classify the organisms?
      • Did some of the organisms fit into more than one category?
      • Why do you think some organisms would fit into more than one category?
      • Did you learn anything new about organisms as you went through this game? If so, what?


      To assess student understanding for this lesson, ask students to use the information on the Creature Cards they&rsquove collected and classify those organisms into the categories they think are appropriate. One way to do this would be to divide your students into three different groups&mdashone for each mode and set of 13 Creature Cards. Students can use the table on the Classify It student sheet to help them do this activity. When they do this classification, they should think about the formal classification system that scientists use and sort the organisms into the five different kingdoms: animal, plant, protist, fungi, and bacteria. When students have finished classifying their set of Creature Cards, bring the groups back together and have them share their classifications.

      Finally, revisit with students the question asked at the beginning of the lesson: What do you now know about classification? You can create a new list with your students and then compare their ideas now with what they thought at the start of the lesson. Have their thoughts changed? If so, how?


      Classify That! is another Science NetLinks lesson that can expand students&rsquo knowledge of living organisms and further develop their ability to group, or classify, living organisms according to a variety of common features.

      In Identification and Classification of Grassland Plants, students have the opportunity to observe the similarities and differences among plant species.

      The Tree of Life, from the American Museum of Natural History, introduces students to cladistics, a classification system that scientists use to show the relationships between species.

      Reptilia: Classification and Features | Animal kingdom

      1. Reptiles are the creeping and burrowing cold blooded vertebrates bearing epidermal scales. They are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and are found mostly in the warmer parts of the world. They are few in colder parts. They are mostly terrestrial animals. There are about 6,000 living species of reptiles in the world.

      2. Skin is dry, rough and without glands, bearing epidermal scales or scutes.

      3. Snakes and lizards shed their scales as skin cast.

      4. They do not respire by means of gills. Respiration always takes place through lungs. Ribs help to expand and contract the body cavity, making the lung respiration more efficient than in amphibian.

      5. Skull is monocondylic, i.e., with single occipital condyle.

      6. Except in snakes, there are two pairs of pentadactyl limbs, each with 5 digits bearing claws— tetrapodus pentadactyl type.

      7. Heart consists of two auricles and a partially divided ventricle. In crocodilians, heart is four chambered (two auricles and two ventricles). Renal portal system is less developed. RBCs are nucleated.

      8. Kidneys are metanephric. Urinary bladder may be present. Crocodiles are ammonotelic. Turtles and alligators are ureotelic. Lizards and snakes are uricotelic.

      9. Twelve pairs of cranial nerves are present.

      10. Each ear consists of three parts external, middle and internal. Snakes do not possess ears.

      11. The lateral line system is altogether absent.

      12. Tortoises feed almost entirely on vegetation. Some turtles are flesh eaters. All other reptiles are carnivorous/insectivorous.

      13. A typical cloaca is present.

      14. They are mostly oviparous. Reptiles lay macrolecithal eggs (= polylecithal eggs). Some forms are ovoviviparous or viviparous. Embryonic membranes (chorion, amnion, allantois and yolk sac) are formed during development.

      Classifications of Living Reptiles:

      Living Reptiles are divided in to following Subclass:

      Skull has a solid bony roof, no temporal vacuities. It includes only single living order chelonia e.g., Che lone (turtle), Testudo (Tortoise), Trionyx (Terrapin)—soft shelled turtle of Indian rivers. Sub class

      Skull has two temporal vacuities. It includes three living orders.

      Order 1. Rhynchocephalia e.g., Sphenodon (Tuatara)—a living fossil.

      Order 2. Squamata It in­cludes two suborders:

      (i) Suborder Lacertilia (Sauria) e.g., Lizards, such as Chameleon (Tree lizard), Calotes (Garden lizard), Hemidactylus (wall lizard),

      (ii) Suborder Ophidia e.g., snakes, such as Naja (Cobra), Bungarus (Krait), Vipera (Viper).

      Order 3. Crocodilia e. g., Crocodilus (Crocodile), Alligator, Gavialis (“Gharial”). They have

      (ii) Lungs in pleural cavities,

      (iii) a muscular diaphragm, analogous to that of mammals and

      Extinct Groups of Class Reptilia:

      Following extinct groups of class reptilia are important to mention here.

      They were most primitive reptiles and closest to early amphibians. They were without temporal fossae in the skull, e.g., Seymouria.

      They were fish-like and had single fossa in the skull e.g. Ichthyosaurus. ’

      They had diapsid skulls. Some were bipedal and gave rise to birds. A group of Archosauria also gave rise to dinosaurs, e.g., Brontosaurus.

      The skull had a single temporal fossa on either side. They were mammal-like reptiles that later on gave rise to mammals, e.g. Plesiosaurus.

      Embryonic Membranes of Reptilia:

      During development, in reptiles, birds and mammals, embryo forms four membranes called embryonic membranes. These are chorion, amnion, allantois and yolk sac. Due to their occurrence, reptiles, birds and mammals are called amniotes. Fishes and amphibians do not have these membranes, hence they are called an amniotes.

      Features of Reptilia:

      Four features make reptiles true land animals:

      (ii) The amnion (embryonic membrane) encloses the embryo and provides it with a watery environment during development, therefore, embryo does not need watery environment

      Animal Diversity Web

      Geographic Range

      Rattus rattus , is found on all continents of the earth. Although the species is believed to be native to India and possibly other Indo-Malayan countries, it has been introduced through human travel overseas to all continents. It is most common in coastal areas because it is a rodent that flourishes in areas inhabited by humans as well as on large ships. For this reason, these animals are often called ship rats. Some other common names for this species include house rat, black rat, and roof rat. Rattus rattus thrives in tropical regions but has been largely driven out of more temperate regions by Noway rats, R. norvegicus. Norway rats, are closely related to black rats, but are more successful in colder climates. However, some data show that R. rattus has been able to adapt to more extreme cold and harsh climate conditions. (Grzimek, 2003 Grzimek, 2003 Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999)

      • Biogeographic Regions
      • nearctic
        • introduced
        • introduced
        • native
        • introduced
        • introduced
        • introduced
        • introduced
        • introduced
        • Other Geographic Terms
        • cosmopolitan


        Rattus rattus is most often found in large numbers in coastal areas because of the way the species is spread through human sea faring. It is generally found in any area that can support its mainly vegetarian diet. Because R. rattus is an agile climber, it often lives in high places, such as top floors of buildings in populated areas or trees in forested areas. Even though it can be found near water, this species rarely swims and unlike its close relatives, rarely finds a home in sewers or in aquatic areas. Although it was formerly common in towns and farms of temperate regions, it has been largely driven out by the more aggressive Norway rat as well as killed off by increasing chemical pest control programs. Data have shown that R. rattus can reach elevations up to 250 m above sea level. (Corbet and Southern, 1977 Grzimek, 2003)

        • Habitat Regions
        • temperate
        • tropical
        • terrestrial
        • Terrestrial Biomes
        • savanna or grassland
        • chaparral
        • forest
        • rainforest
        • scrub forest
        • Other Habitat Features
        • urban
        • suburban
        • agricultural
        • Range elevation 0 to 250 m 0.00 to 820.21 ft

        Physical Description

        Rattus rattus is a medium sized rat with relatively large ears and a tail that is nearly always longer than the body. Individuals weigh between 70 and 300 g, and are between 16 and 22 cm in head and body length and a tail length of 19 cm or longer. Males are longer and heavier than are females.

        Many members of the species are black in color with a lighter colored ventral belly. The species is often divided into subspecies based upon color patterns which can occur in any combination of black, white, grey, and agouti.

        The skull and nasal bones are relatively narrow. One of the main ways to differentiate between R. rattus and R. norvegicus is that R. rattus has a finer covering of hair, a lighter skull, and a slightly differently shaped upper first molar. (Allen, 1938 Corbet and Southern, 1977 Grzimek, 2003)

        • Other Physical Features
        • endothermic
        • homoiothermic
        • bilateral symmetry
        • Sexual Dimorphism
        • male larger
        • Range mass 70 to 300 g 2.47 to 10.57 oz
        • Average mass 200 g 7.05 oz
        • Range length 16 to 22 cm 6.30 to 8.66 in
        • Average basal metabolic rate 0.77 W AnAge


        Social groups of R. rattus are often formed of multiple males and multiple females. One male is dominant and a linear male hierarchy may form. Two to three females are often dominant to all other group members except the dominant male. Females are generally more aggressive than males. The species is polygynous, and generally, the dominant male is the most successful breeder. Territories and mates are defended through aggressive behavior. If environmental conditions allow it, successful breeding may occur all year. (Corbet and Southern, 1977)

        Rattus rattus is able to breed throughout the year if conditions allow. The peak breeding seasons are summer and autumn. Females can produce up to 5 litters in one year. The gestation period ranges between 21 and 29 days, and young rats are able to reproduce within 3 to 5 months of their birth. Neonates are altricial, like most rodents, and their eyes do not open until 15 days of age. Young remain hairless for much of their nursing period. Weaning and independence from the mother occur at about 3 to 4 weeks of age. (Corbet and Southern, 1977 Grzimek, 2003 Corbet and Southern, 1977 Grzimek, 2003)

        • Key Reproductive Features
        • iteroparous
        • year-round breeding
        • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
        • sexual
        • fertilization
        • viviparous
        • Breeding interval R. rattus breeds year-round producing up to five litters in that time.
        • Breeding season R. rattus mates throughout the year if environmental conditions permit, however peak times are summer and autumn seasons.
        • Range number of offspring 6 to 12
        • Average number of offspring 8
        • Average number of offspring 7.3 AnAge
        • Range gestation period 21 to 29 days
        • Range weaning age 3 to 4 weeks
        • Range time to independence 3 to 4 weeks
        • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female) 3 to 5 months
        • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male) 3 to 5 months

        Because male members of R. rattus copulate with one female and then move on to the next, they don't contribute much to the care of the young. The young remain relatively helpless for about 2 weeks, until they begin to grow a pelage, their eyes open, and they are able to move around more. Weaning is accompanied by increased independence from the mother. Until these rats reach their full adult size, they stay in the nest built by their mother. Young rats are capable of reproducing by about 3 to 5 months of age. (Grzimek, 2003)

        • Parental Investment
        • no parental involvement
        • altricial
        • female parental care
        • pre-fertilization
          • protecting
            • female
            • provisioning
              • female
              • female
              • provisioning
                • female
                • female
                • protecting
                  • female


                  Rattus rattus tends to live for about a year in the wild with an annual mortality rate of 91 to 97%. In captivity, it has been reported to live for up to 4 years. (Nowak, 1999)

                  • Range lifespan
                    Status: wild 1 (high) years
                  • Range lifespan
                    Status: captivity 4 (high) years
                  • Typical lifespan
                    Status: wild 1 (high) years
                  • Typical lifespan
                    Status: captivity 1 (low) years


                  Rattus rattus tends to live in polygynous groups with multiple males and females. Dominant males have increased mating access and mate more frequently than do subordinate males. Females are usually more aggressive than males, but have been reported to be less mobile.

                  Black rats exhibit many destructive behaviors. These animals strip bark off of trees, contaminate human food sources, and are overall pests.

                  Rattus rattus is primarily nocturnal. It builds nests for young out of sticks and leaves, and sometimes locates nests in burrows. Depending upon habitat, individuals may be arboreal or terricolous. Often these rats use their climbing abilities to make a home in upper floors of buildings. This species has a highly adapted tail that is longer than its body. Being an avid climber that often lives on ships and in arboreal habitats, R. rattus uses this long tail to assist in balance. (Allen, 1938 Corbet and Southern, 1977 Grzimek, 2003 Nowak, 1999 Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999)

                  • Key Behaviors
                  • arboreal
                  • terricolous
                  • nocturnal
                  • motile
                  • sedentary
                  • territorial
                  • social
                  • dominance hierarchies
                  • Range territory size 100 (high) m^2

                  Home Range

                  The home range of R. rattus is never more than about 100 square meters. It often has smaller territories. Territories surround food sources and are defended. (Nowak, 1999)

                  Communication and Perception

                  Rattus rattus is a somewhat vocal animal, producing squeaks when threatened or socializing. It also produces oil smears that are left along particular areas to illustrate territorial boundries. Hierarchy in groups is determined using aggressive threat postures and physcial contact. Vision, hearing, touch, and smell are all used in sensing the environment. (Nowak, 1999)

                  • Communication Channels
                  • visual
                  • tactile
                  • acoustic
                  • chemical
                  • Other Communication Modes
                  • pheromones
                  • scent marks
                  • Perception Channels
                  • visual
                  • tactile
                  • acoustic
                  • chemical

                  Food Habits

                  Rattus rattus generally feeds on fruit, grain, cereals, and other vegetation. It is an omnivore, however, and will feed on insects or other invertebrates if necessary. It consumes about 15 g/day of food and 15 mL/day of water. Because it consumes and destroys the food source during feeding, it can cause devastating damage to farms and livestock. Not only does it gnaw through many materials but it ruins more than that by excreting on the remains of its foraging efforts. (Nowak, 1999)

                  • Primary Diet
                  • herbivore
                    • granivore
                    • Animal Foods
                    • insects
                    • Plant Foods
                    • leaves
                    • wood, bark, or stems
                    • seeds, grains, and nuts
                    • fruit


                    Known predators of R. rattus vary depending on environment. In urban or suburban areas, house cats are the main threat to its survival. In less populated areas, birds and other carnivorous animals prey upon it. One possible anti-predator adaptation is the array of color patterns found in this species. Some evidence suggests that color is related to geographical location and therefore ability to remain less conspicuous in the local environment. Also, rats are often aggressive toward other rats. Captive studies have shown R. norvegicus will kill R. rattus . Rattus rattus has a typical threat pose in which it stands on its hind feet and bares its teeth. (Nowak, 1999)

                    Ecosystem Roles

                    Impact of these animals on their ecosystems has not been studied. However, we may infer from their feeding habits that they have some impact on plant communities. As a prey species, they may impact populations of those animals which feed upon them. Also, they compete with other species of rodents, such as Rattus norvegicus. Rattus rattus is a disease vector, responsible for bubonic plague outbreaks and other diseases. This cosmopolitan species hosts a wide variety of internal and external parasites, up to 18 species of gastrointestinal helminths in some areas. (Desquesnes, et al., 2002 Mafiana, et al., 1997)

                    • Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
                    • rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus)
                    • cestodes (Hymenolepis diminuta)
                    • cestodes (Taenia taeniaeformis)
                    • cestodes (Raillietina sp.)
                    • nematodes ( Mastophorus muris )
                    • nematodes ( Trichuris muris )
                    • nematodes ( Syphacia sp.)
                    • nematodes ( Nippostrongylus brasiliensis )
                    • acanthocephalan ( Moniliformis moniliformis )
                    • trypanosomes ( Trypanosoma lewis )

                    Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

                    There are no known benefits of R. rattus for humans. Norway rats, the closest related species, is often used for research and as pets. (Corbet and Southern, 1977)

                    Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

                    Rattus rattus is a pest and is dangerous to humans in several ways. First, these animals are severely destructive to crops, farms, and fruit trees. Not only do they feed on these but they tend to destroy what they are unable to consume. By urinating and defecating on remains of their meals, they ruin grain, cereals, and other food sources. This species is famous for its role in spreading the bubonic plague ( Yersinia pestis ) that took millions of lives in the middle ages. The fleas that live on these rats carry a number of diseases that can seriously harm humans, livestock, and other animals. (Allen, 1938 Corbet and Southern, 1977 Grzimek, 2003 Nowak, 1999 Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999)

                    Conservation Status

                    Rattus rattus has no special conservation status. They are widespread and abundant, especially in areas where humans live.

                    • IUCN Red List Least Concern
                      More information
                    • IUCN Red List Least Concern
                      More information
                    • US Federal List No special status
                    • CITES No special status
                    • State of Michigan List No special status


                    Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

                    Heather Gillespie (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


                    lives on Antarctica, the southernmost continent which sits astride the southern pole.

                    Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

                    living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

                    living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

                    living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

                    living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

                    uses sound to communicate

                    living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

                    young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

                    Referring to an animal that lives in trees tree-climbing.

                    having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

                    an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).

                    either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal

                    Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.

                    uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

                    having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.

                    having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

                    ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

                    animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

                    parental care is carried out by females

                    union of egg and spermatozoan

                    forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

                    an animal that mainly eats seeds

                    An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

                    referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

                    offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

                    having the capacity to move from one place to another.

                    the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

                    islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

                    found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

                    chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species

                    having more than one female as a mate at one time

                    rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

                    communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

                    scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

                    reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

                    associates with others of its species forms social groups.

                    living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

                    uses touch to communicate

                    that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

                    defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

                    the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

                    A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

                    A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

                    A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

                    living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.

                    uses sight to communicate

                    reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

                    breeding takes place throughout the year


                    Allen, G. 1938. The Mammals of China and Mongolia. Natural history of Central Asia . New York: American Museum of Natural History.

                    Corbet, G., H. Southern. 1977. The Handbook of British Mammals . Oxford: Octavo.

                    Desquesnes, M., S. Ravel, G. Cuny. 2002. PCR identification of Trypanosoma lewisi, a common parasite of laboratory rats. Kinetoplastid Biology and Disease , 1: 2. Accessed September 03, 2006 at

                    Grzimek, B. 2003. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia: Mammals. Pp. 126-128 in N Schlager, D Olendorf, M McDade, eds. Order: Rodentia , Vol. 16, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

                    Mafiana, C., M. Osho, S. Sam-Wobo. 1997. Gastrointestinal helminth parasites of the black rat (Rattus rattus) in Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria.. Journal of Helminthology , 71: 217-220.

                    Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World (6th Edition) . Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

                    Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999. Distribution and habitat use of the feral black rat (Rattus rattus) on subantarctic Macquarie Island. Journal of Zoology , 247: 429-438.

                    The Tyrant Lizards:The Tyrannosauridae

                    The name says it all. This group of huge carnivores must have tyrannically ruled the land during the last part of the Cretaceous, 85 to 65 million years ago. Short but deep jaws with banana-sized sharp teeth, long hind limbs, small beady eyes, and tiny forelimbs (arms) typify a tyrannosaur. The Tyrannosauridae included such similar animals (in rough order of increasing size) as Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Tarbosaurus, and of course Tyrannosaurus rex. A tremendous skeleton of Tyrannosaurus now stands guard in the Valley Life Sciences Building, which houses the UCMP and the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. Tyrannosaurs belong to the Saurischia, or "reptile-hipped" dinosaurs. Within the Saurischia, tyrannosaurids belong to the group of carnivorous dinosaurs known as theropods. Traditionally, the tyrannosaurs have been included within the Carnosauria. In this classification scheme, carnosaurs represent the largest carnivorous animals to ever walk the land. However, recent work has shown that tyrannosaurs are in fact a highly derived group of coelurosaurs, which is mostly composed of smaller animals (including the smallest of all non-avian dinosaurs, the crow-sized Compsognathus, and also the birds).

                    How Did Tyrannosaurs Move?

                    Many scientists familiar with the principles of biomechanics (physics applied to living organisms) think that tyrannosaurs could move fairly fast, maybe 10-20 mph, but not as fast as the smaller theropod dinosaurs. Smaller tyrannosaurs like Albertosaurus or young individuals may have moved faster than the bigger ones like T. rex. Yet we still lack any clear evidence that tyrannosaurs could even run some think that their body size limited them to only a fast walk, like an elephant. Trackways that unambiguously were made by tyrannosaurs would clarify the matter, but so far these are not known, apart from one probable footprint.

                    Tyrannosaur Fossils

                    Tyrannosaurus rex

                    T. rex was one of the largest terrestrial carnivores of all time. It stood approximately 15 feet high and was about 40 feet in length, roughly six tons in weight. In its large mouth were six-inch long, sharp, serrated teeth.

                    Just about two dozen good specimens of these animals have been found and these finds are from highly restricted areas in western North America. Henry Fairfield Osborn, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, first described Tyrannosaurus rex in 1905. This first specimen of Tyrannosaurus is now on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The skeleton on display at UCMP is a cast of a skeleton (excavated in 1990) now in the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Berkeley's mount is 90% complete, one of the best specimens found to date. Some 15㪬 other specimens around the country range from about 10% to 80% complete missing ribs and tail bones are common.

                    T. rex: Scavenger or Predator?

                    Paleontologist Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, MT) has proposed that T.rex could not have been a predator. His arguments against predation include its small eyes (needed to see prey), small arms (needed to hold prey), huge legs (meaning slow speed) and that there is no evidence for predation — bones have been found with tyrannosaur teeth embedded in them or scratched by them, but so far no study has shown that tyrannosaurs killed other dinosaurs for food (a bone showing tyrannosaur tooth marks that had healed would be strong evidence for predation).

                    His evidence supporting scavenging include its large olfactory lobes (part of the brain used for smell), and that its legs were built for walking long distances (the thigh was about the size of the calf, as in humans). Vultures have large olfactory lobes and are good at soaring to cover long distances.

                    There are arguments against scavenging. Most large living predators (such as lions and hyenas) do scavenge meat happily when it is available, but most do prefer fresh meat. Horner argues that its arms were too weak to grab prey, but sharks, wolves, snakes, lizards and even many birds are successful predators without using their forelimbs (if any). Whether T.rex was a slow animal is tough to tell, as our dinosaur speeds page will tell you.

                    What is the public to think of all this? It is suggested that you make up your own mind the fact is that reconstructing the behavior of extinct animals is difficult, especially when there are no close modern relatives with which to compare them. Tyrannosaurs may have been scavengers, predators or both Horner is merely presenting an opposing argument that shows that we are not yet 100% sure what ecological niche the great tyrannosaurs filled.

                    Tarbosaurus: Is it or isn't it a tyrannosaur?

                    Some paleontologists feel that Tarbosaurus was so closely related to Tyrannosaurus that the two should be placed in the same genus. If this proposal is adopted, then Tarbosaurus will be renamed Tyrannosaurus bataar.

                    Mystery Solved: It Was a Huge Minke Whale Skull Found on Jersey Shore Beach

                    By Hannah Gross &bull Published June 2, 2021 &bull Updated on June 2, 2021 at 5:01 pm

                    A giant skull found Monday on an Ocean County beach was a mystery at first. But, it turns out, it had likely been there all along.

                    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection discovered the skull and lower jaw of a Minke Whale at Island Beach State Park.

                    After a brief Twitter guessing game, experts said they believe it belongs to a Minke Whale that was buried on the beach in June 2020.

                    We have confirmed that this is the ventral (lower) jaw and skull of a Minke whale.

                    &mdash New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (@NewJerseyDEP) June 2, 2021

                    Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, said the skull showed up in a similar location to where a Minke Whale was buried in the park last summer.

                    "The fact that it washed back up is not unusual," Schoelkopf said. "This is a common thing to happen when we bury animals on the beach."


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                    He said parts from an animal buried on the beach become uncovered about once a year.

                    It's common to bury whales on the beaches and parks where they are stranded because their size makes it difficult and expensive to transport them to another burial site, Schoelkopf said. Over 100 whales have been buried across the state.

                    Minke Whales weigh up to approximately 20,000 pounds and can be as long as 35 feet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

                    "When you have an animal that weighs that much, you just don't pick it up and carry it some place," Schoelkopf said.

                    He added that the animals are buried as deep as possible depending on the characteristics of the beach.

                    Whales are typically buried at least six feet deep, so there must be a big storm or strong surf to bring one close to the surface, Rutgers University Ecology and Evolution Ph.D. candidate and lead researcher for Gotham Wale Danielle Brown Brown said.

                    That's exactly what happened on Monday as heavy surf and winds over the weekend led the skull to be unearthed, Brown said.

                    She added that there has been an unusual mortality event of Minke Whales in recent years which have led to numerous strandings along the East Coast.

                    If you see part of an animal on the beach, leave it where it is and report it to the Department of Environmental Protection or the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Schoelkopf and Brown advised.

                    American Alligator’s Lineage is More Ancient than Previously Thought

                    According to new research, American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) have remained virtually untouched by evolutionary change for at least 8 million years — up to 6 million years older than previously thought.

                    American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Image credit: Gareth Rasberry / CC BY-SA 3.0.

                    “If we could step back in time 8 million years, you’d basically see the same animal crawling around then as you would see today in the Southeast,” said lead researcher Dr. Evan Whiting, from the University of Minnesota.

                    “Even 30 million years ago, they didn’t look much different,” he added.

                    “We were surprised to find fossil alligators from this deep in time that actually belong to the living species, rather than an extinct one.”

                    He and his colleagues describe the alligator as a survivor, withstanding sea-level fluctuations and extreme changes in climate that would have caused some less-adaptive animals to rapidly change or go extinct.

                    The scientists began re-thinking the alligator’s evolutionary history after Dr. Whiting examined an ancient alligator skull, originally thought to be an extinct species, unearthed in Marion County, Florida, and found it to be virtually identical to the iconic modern species.

                    They compared the ancient skull with dozens of other fossils and modern skeletons to look at the whole genus and trace major changes, or the lack thereof, in alligator morphology.

                    The authors also studied the carbon and oxygen compositions of the teeth of both ancient alligators and the 20- to 25-foot extinct crocodile Gavialosuchus americanus that once dominated the Florida coastline and died out about 5 million years ago for unknown reasons.

                    “The presence of alligator and Gavialosuchus fossils at several localities in north Florida suggest the two species may have coexisted in places near the coast,” Dr. Whiting said.

                    Analysis of the teeth suggests, however, that Gavialosuchus americanus was a marine reptile, which sought its prey in ocean waters, while alligators tended to hunt in freshwater and on land. That doesn’t mean alligators weren’t occasionally eaten by the marine crocs, though.

                    “The gators we see today do not really compete with anything, but millions of years ago it was not only competing with another type of crocodilian, it was competing with a much larger one,” said co-author Dr. David Steadman, from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida (UF).

                    “The presence of the ancient crocodile in Florida may have helped keep the alligators in freshwater habitats, though it appears alligators have always been most comfortable in freshwater.”

                    “While modern alligators do look prehistoric as they bake on sandbars along the Suwannee River or stroll down sidewalks on the UF campus, they are not somehow immune to evolution,” the researchers said.

                    “On the contrary, they are the result of an incredibly ancient evolutionary line.”

                    “The group they belong to, Crocodylia, has been around for at least 84 million years and has diverse ancestors dating as far back as the Triassic, more than 200 million years ago.”

                    Evan T. Whiting et al. 2016. Cranial Polymorphism and Systematics of Miocene and Living Alligator in North America. Journal of Herpetology 50 (2): 306-315 doi: 10.1670/15-023

                    Evan T. Whiting et al. 2016. Paleoecology of Miocene crocodylians in Florida: Insights from stable isotope analysis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 451: 23-34 doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.03.009

                    This article is based on a press-release from the University of Florida .


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