This is just the stuff that I haven’t put into buckets yet. I’ve got a dozen or more trash cans, five gallon buckets, and totes full of other skulls and bones I’m cleaning.
It’s a busy time of year!
Box of cow skulls and bones a co-worker of my dad’s gave to me. She has a bunch of cows and has started saving bones for me, woohoo!
A lot of these will be for sale once I get them cleaned up. I might paint some too once I get a better idea of what sort of shape they are in.
So often I see “horse skulls” for sale that are actually cow skulls. A lot of folks automatically assume that if it is a big skull with no horns then is must belong to a horse. Here is a side by side comparison to show how vastly different these two critters are.
Skull on the left in the first photo is a horse. The skull on the right is a cow. In the second photo the skull on the bottom is a horse and the skull on top is a cow.
Cows have broad, thick heads, especially near the top of the skull while horses have longer, more tapered skulls. The most obvious difference between the two though is the teeth. Horses have both upper and lower incisors (twelve teeth in total) at the front of the mouth while cows only have lower incisors (six). Since horses don’t ruminate or have four stomachs like a cow they need to be able to break down their food a little more thoroughly before they swallow it. Having upper incisors helps them get the good out of every bite.
Sometimes horses will also have canine or even wolf teeth that grow between the incisors and the molars. Wolf teeth are actually vestigial premolars which are often removed if the horse is a work animal because they can interfere with a bit. Canine teeth look like fangs and horses can have anywhere from zero to five of them. Most often they are found in stallions and geldings (my big draft gelding has some scary canine teeth) but mares can have them too. I think it’s something like less that 30% of mares have them though and they often times only have one or two while stallions usually have a full set of four (two uppers and two in the bottom jaws).
So to recap: Horses have long, thin skulls with incisors in both the skull and lower jaws while cows have thick, broad skulls, sometimes with horns, with incisors only present in the bottom jaws.