Animal Skull Identification Guide

Animal Skull Guide

Whether it be flying on a black flag symbolizing pirates or attached to a giant T-Rex skeleton staring down at us in a museum, the skull has forever fascinated us. We are all familiar with our own skull of course, but could you identify what animal a skull belongs to just by seeing it by itself.

The skull can be a valuable tool when it comes to identifying a species, understanding its anatomy and dietary habits, and helping us understand evolution. Although most natural history museums have displays of animal skulls, it can often prove difficult to find a quality guide that can help you identify specimens you may come across in the field.

 Clockwise from left: Bottlenose Dolphin Skull, Tasmanian Tiger Skull, African Lion Skull

We have put together a brief online guide of animal skulls from around the world which you will find below. We give our thanks to the many museums, nature centers, and teaching collections for allowing us to photograph the species found in this guide.

Online Guide to Animal Skulls

 

Mammals

North America

Wolverine skull teethWolverine Walrus skull ivory tusksWalrus Walrus skull ivory teethWalrus Swift Fox skullSwift Fox Striped Skunk skull teethStriped Skunk
Spotted Skunk skull teethSpotted Skunk Sea Otter skull teethSea Otter North American River Otter skull teethRiver Otter Red Wolf skull teethRed Wolf Red Fox skull teethRed Fox
Raccoon skull teethRaccoon Prarie Dog skullPrarie Dog North American Porcupine skullPorcupine Polar Bear skull teethPolar Bear Polar Bear skull teethPolar Bear
Pine Marten skullPine Marten North American Opossum skullOpossum Muskrat skullMuskrat Muskox skull hornsMuskox Cougar - Mountain Lion skull teethMountain Lion
Mink skullMink Manatee skull teethManatee Canadian Lynx skullCanadian Lynx Javelina skull tusksJavelina Gray Wolf skull teethGray Wolf
Gray Fox skullGray Fox Fisher skullFisher Ermine skullErmine Coyote skull teethCoyote Coyote skull teethCoyote
California Sea Lion skull teethCalifornia Sea Lion Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin skull teeth Bottlenose Dolphin Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin skull teethBottlenose Dolphin Brown Bear skull teeth tooth

Brown Bear

Brown Bear - Grizzly skull teeth toothBrown Bear- Grizzly
Brown Bear - Kodiak skull teeth toothBrown Bear- Kodiak Black Bear skull teeth tooth

Black Bear

Beaver skull teeth

Beaver

American Badger skull teeth

American Badger

Nine Banded Armadillo skull teethNine Banded Armadillo
Groundhog skull teethGroundhog

 

South America

Two Toed Sloth skull teethTwo Toed Sloth Jaguar skull teeth toothJaguar Puma - Argentina skull teethPuma – Argentina Coati skull teeth coatimundi Coati Capybara skull teethCapybara
Kinkajou skull teethKinkajou

Africa

Plains Zebra skull teethPlains Zebra White Rhinoceros skull teethWhite Rhinoceros Warthog skull teeth tusksWarthog Vervet Monkey skull teethVervet Monkey Springhare skull teethSpringhare
Serval skull teeth

Serval

Rock Hyrax skull teeth

Hyrax

Red Duiker skull teeth

Red Duiker

African Crested Porcupine skull teethCrested Porcupine Chacma Baboon skull teeth

Chacma Baboon

Meerkat skull teethMeerkat African Leopard skull teethLeopard Klipspringer skull teethKlipspringer Black Backed Jackal skull teethBlack Backed Jackal Hyena skull teethSpotted Hyena
Honey Badger skull teeth

Honey Badger

Hippopotamus skull teeth tusks

Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus Tusks skull teethHippopotamus Tusks Hippopotamus Tusks skull teethHippopotamus Tusk Giraffe skull teeth

Giraffe

Common Gennet skull teethCommon Genet African Civet skull teethAfrican Civet African Clawless Otter skull teethClawless Otter Cape Buffalo skull teeth hornsCape Buffalo Blue Duiker skull teethBlue Duiker
Bat Eared Fox skull teethBat Eared Fox African Lion skull teeth toothAfrican Lion Aardwolf skull teethAardwolf Aardvark skull teethAardvark Caracal skull teethCaracal

Asia

Siberian Tiger skull teeth tooth

Siberian Tiger

Tanuki - Raccoon Dog skull teethTanuki- Raccoon Dog Sun Bear skull teeth tooth

Sun Bear

Japanese Serow skull teeth horns

Japaneese Serow

 

Australia

Gray Kangaroo skull teethKangaroo

 

Birds

Wood Stork skull bird

Wood Stork

Vulturine Guinea Fowl skull birdVulturine Guinea Fowl Turkey Vulture skull bird

Turkey Vulture

Royal Tern bird skull

Royal Tern

Rhea skull bird

Rhea

Ring Necked Pheasant skull birdRing Necked Pheasant Common Raven skull bird

Common Raven

Ostrich skull bird

Ostrich

Osprey skull bird

Osprey

Northern Gannet skull bird

Northern Gannet

 

Limpkin skull bird

Limpkin

Great Blue Heron skull bird

Great Blue Heron

Double Crested Cormorant skull birdDouble Crested Cormorant Crow skull bird

American Crow

Cooper's Hawk skull bird

Cooper’s Hawk

Common Loon skull birdCommon Loon Capercallie skull birdCapercaillie Canada Goose skull birdCanada Goose Brown Pelican skull birdBrown Pelican Blue Jay skull birdBlue Jay
Black Vulture skull bird

Black Vulture

Black Skimmer skull bird

Black Skimmer

Black Crowned Night Heron skull birdBlack Crowned Night Heron Barred Owl skull bird

Barred Owl

Barred Owl skull bird

Barred Owl

Barn Owl skull bird

Barn Owl

Bald Eagle skull bird

Bald Eagle

American Kestrel skull bird

American Kestrel

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill skull birdAbyssinian Ground Hornbill Red Tailed Hawk skull bird

Red Tailed Hawk

Great Horned Owl skull birdGreat Horned Owl

 

Reptiles & Amphibians

Striped Mud Turtle skull shell

Striped Mud Turtle

Florida Softshell Turtle skull

Florida Softshell Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle skull

Common Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle skull

Common Snapping Turtle

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake skull fangsEastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake skull fangs rattleEastern

Diamondback Rattlesnake

Nile Crocodile skull teeth toothNile Crocodile

 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle skull beak

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Loggerhead Sea Turtle skull

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Gopher Tortoise skull

 

Gopher Tortoise

Florida Box Turtle skull shellFlorida Box Turtle Two Toed Amphiuma skullTwo Toed Amphiuma American Alligator skull teeth toothAmerican Alligator Alligator Snapping Turtle skullAlligator Snapping Turtle

 

Oceans

Tiger Shark jaws teeth tooth

Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark jaws teeth tooth

Tiger Shark

Sperm Whale Tooth ivory teethSperm Whale Tooth Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin skull teethBottlenose Dolphin Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin skull teethBottlenose Dolphin
Bowhead Whale BaleenBowhead Whale Baleen

 

For a more complete animal skull identification guide, we highly recommend the following books.

animal-skull-guide

Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection

Skulls is a beautiful spellbinding exploration of more than 300 different animal skulls­—amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles—written by New York Times bestselling author, Simon Winchester .

At the center of Skulls is a stunning, never-before-seen-in-any-capacity, visual array of the skulls of more than 300 animals that walk, swim, and fly. The skulls are from the collection of Alan Dudley, a British collector and owner of what is probably the largest and most complete private collection of skulls in the world. Every skull is beautifully photographed to show several angles and to give the reader the most intimate view possible. Each includes a short explanatory paragraph and a data box with information on the animal’s taxonomy, behavior, and diet.

Book Review:

This is an absolutely stunning book. I bought this book because I like to draw and paint animals and decided it is time to learn more about animal anatomy and the unseen structure of the skull as the foundation to build upon. This book will be a valuable resource to any artist looking to do the same. You will not be disappointed, the layout and detailed photography of this book are amazing.

Purchase Here  

best-animal-skull-guide

Animal Skulls: A Guide to North American Species

Comprehensive guide to the animals of North America. Fully illustrated with drawings and photographs. User-friendly format makes comparing species easy.

Book Review:

Without a doubt, this is the best book on skulls ever written. If you live in North America, and want to know a *LOT* about the skulls of the animals on the continent (primarily mammals, but the book does also cover birds, reptiles, and amphibians in a more limited fashion), there is no better resource. I teach mammalogy at our local university, and waited a few years to buy my own copy of this book, since our campus library had one. Now that I have my own copy I don’t have to borrow it over and over again, and can go through it anytime I want. Definitely my go-to resource for all things pertaining to cranial osteology.

Purchase Here