Here are some common skull, skeleton and biological terms used when studying skulls. Adaptation



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Here are some common skull, skeleton and biological terms used when studying skulls.

Adaptation: Any modification made or developed to assist in the survival of a species.

Amphibia: The taxonomic class to which all amphibians belong. This class includes all frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.

Amphibian: An animal that is ectothermic with smooth and sometimes slimy skin. Amphibians lay non-shelled egg clusters in the water. Most amphibians begin their life as a gill breathing aquatic larval form and later morph into a lung breathing adult form. All amphibians belong to the class Amphibia.

Antler: A horn-like, generally multi-pronged, projection that grows from the head of male members of the deer family Cervidae. Antlers are grown annually, mainly to help establish dominance during the mating season, and then are shed.

Aquatic: Referring to a species that lives in the water.

Arboreal: Referring to a species that lives in trees.

Auditory Bulla: Bulbous projection, usually on the under side of a skull, used to house the ear drum and small bones used in hearing. Plural = Bullae.

Aves: The taxonomic class to which all birds belong.

Binocular Vision: Vision in which an animal can focus on an object with both eyes. Synonymous with Stereoscopic Vision.

Bird: An animal that is endothermic, possesses feathers, and lays hard-shelled eggs. Most birds, although not all, possess limbs that are modified for flight. All birds belong to the class Aves.

Browser: An animal that eats a combination of leaves, bark and saplings, but generally does not eat grasses. Typically a woodland species.

Canine: The long, sharp grasping teeth found in carnivores and most omnivores. Canine teeth are sometimes wrongly called “fangs.”

Carnassial: The sharp-edged cheek teeth that act like a scissor when chewing flesh. Carnassial teeth are found in mammals belonging to the order Carnivora which includes all dogs, cats, weasels and bears.

Carnivore: Any animal with a diet consisting mainly of animal meat.

Carrion: A dead animal or decomposing carcass.

Crepuscular: Active during the early morning as well as in the evening.

Condyle: A surface where two bones attach that is usually convex or concave in shape.

Diurnal: Active during the day.

Ectothermic: An animal with a body temperature that varies depending on its external temperature. A species that does not maintain a constant body temperature. Synonymous with Poikilothermic or “Cold-blooded”. Insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles are examples of ectothermic animals.

Endothermic: The ability to maintain a constant body temperature. Synonymous with Homoeothermic or “Warm-blooded”. Birds and mammals are examples of animals that are endothermic.

Fitness: A natural organisms ability to live, survive and reproduce.

Foramen Magnum: Large natural opening located on the posterior side of a skull where the spinal cord attaches to the brain.

Frontal: The bone that makes up the “Fore Head”.

Grazer: An animal that primarily eats grasses. Typically a prairie or plains species.

Habitat: A specific environment in which a species lives.

Herbivore: Any animal with a diet consisting mainly of plant vegetation.

Homoeothermic: The ability to maintain a constant body temperature. Synonymous with Endothermic or “Warm-blooded”. Birds and mammals are examples of animals that are homoeothermic.

Horn: An ever-growing, keratin covered, boney projection that grows from the head of members of the Bovidae family including cattle, goats, sheep, gazelle and antelope. Depending on the species, horns can be found in both males and females.

Hypothesis: An idea formed to be tested and proven or dis-proven.

Incisor: Front teeth that are typically used for chomping or stripping hair from prey and vegetation from plants.

Keratin: The substance that horns, hair and finger nails are composed of.

Mammal: An animal that is endothermic, possesses fur or hair, and is capable of feeding its young with milk from specialized mammary glands. Most mammal species are capable of live birth, although there are three mammal species that lay eggs. All mammals belong to the class Mammalia.

Mammalia: The taxonomic class to which all mammals belong.

Mandible: The jaw bone.

Maxilla: The upper jaw, usually where the upper teeth root.

Molar: Cheek teeth that are typically used for grinding or chewing.

Nasal: The delicate bones that comprise the bridge of the nose and help protect the nasal passage.

Nocturnal: Active at night.

Occipital Condyle: The area where the skull attaches to the atlas vertebrae. A condyle located on the occipital bone of the skull.

Omnivore: Any animal with a diet consisting of both animal meat and plant vegetation.

Orbit: The eye socket or area where the eye sits in a skull.

Palatine: The hard roof of the mouth, also called the Palate.

Pathology: Damage as a result from injury or disease.

Poikilothermic: An animal with a body temperature that varies depending on its external temperature. A species that does not maintain a constant body temperature. Synonymous with Ectothermic or “Cold-blooded”. Insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles are examples of poikilothermic animals.

Predator: An animal that hunts other animals as a food source.

Premaxilla: Bones that make up the anterior tip of the upper jaw. “Lip bones”.

Prey: An animal, typically an herbivore, that is a source of food for other animals.

Process: A boney projection from the skull. Infraorbital process = a boney projection(process) located above(infra) the eye socket(orbital).

Raptor: A synonym for any bird of prey. Hawks, owls, eagles and falcons are examples of raptors.

Reptile: An animal that is ectothermic, possesses a scaly, dry skin and lays soft-shelled eggs. All reptiles belong to the class Reptilia.

Reptilia: The taxonomic class to which all reptiles belong. This class commonly includes all snakes, lizards, crocodiles, turtles and the tuatara.

Scavenger: A species which feeds on prey that it has not killed. An animal that eats other animals leftovers.

Stereoscopic Vision: Vision in which an animal can focus on an object with both eyes. Synonymous with Binocular Vision.

Talon: The long, sharp toe nail of a bird of prey. Used for grabbing and killing prey.

Vertebrate: Any animal that possesses a boney vertebral column. An animal that has a backbone.

Zygomatic Arch: The cheek bone.


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