I’ve had a few people ask me about aging skulls lately. I’m no expert but I thought that this might be helpful to some folks and that the pics would at least make for good reference.
Pictured is the skull from a juvenile standard size donkey and the skull from an adult miniature horse. They are relatively the same size so that helps focus on the other things that tell an adult from a juvenile animal skull like the teeth and sutures of the skull.
I’m unsure about the age of the donkey but I’d guess it was around a year or two old at the most. The miniature horse was said to be around six years old.
A skull is actually not just one bone but it is instead made up of many different bones. Horse skulls are composed of 34 bones. When a horse (and this goes for pretty much all skull-bearing creatures) is born those bones are fragile and are held together by cartilage. As the animal grows older the bones begin to harden and fuse together. So in the skulls of young animals you can still see the gaps between these sutures. In older animals only thin seams are visible and sometimes, with a great deal of age, they disappear entirely.
Teeth are also a good way to differentiate between a young and an adult animal. Judging exact age by teeth can be difficult, even for equine dentists, but it’s still fairly easy to tell an adult from a juvenile animal.
They main thing to notice is what isn’t there. The donkey has rear molars that have yet to “erupt” or grow out from the gum line. The teeth it does have show very little wear. The mini horse (dental anomalies aside) has all of its molars present and they show some wear but not an extreme amount. So it was not an incredibly old animal but still a very mature one.
So there ya go. A crash course in aging skulls! Hope some of you might find this helpful!
Pathology Party Part 6
I know I’ve posted about this little dude quite a bit in the past but he is one of my favorites and he fits neatly into this category so here we are again. This is Yogi the miniature horse. Yogi was kicked in the head by a Percheron in a wrong-place-wrong-time accident. You can see by the big dent in his skull what a devastatingly powerful blow it was. Poor Yogi was killed instantly.
Yogi also has some very strange incisors. Miniature horses are often inbred so these wacky teeth could possibly be a result poor breeding.
Definitely a one of a kind skull and I’m honored to have him in my collection.