leistonroy's picture

Skull base

Observed: 13th March 2013 By: leistonroy
skull base
skull side
skull top
skull rear

found on N.sea beach after storm.Very black and shiny. Appears to have nostrils and small teeth/fangs at the front.evidence of spinal column at top rear, cartiledge at base rear.Length 15cm. Skate abundant offshore. Why is it black?

    Likely ID
    fish skull top section .poss cod.
    Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


nightfly's picture

Similar looking skull

Similar looking skull here:-


I think it is black as result of being buried in black substrata, eg black sand containing decomposing organic matter(seaweed)- really smelly stuff if dug up. White sea shells become black just like above if buried in certain substrata for a period of time. This might explain the colour.

Curious skull shape -I cant offer any suggestion as to species but hopefully someone can.


nightfly's picture

Sturgeon? Or are they also

Sturgeon? Or are they also cartilagenous?


nightfly's picture

Someone else thinks its a

Someone else thinks its a sturgeon skull also but I'm not fully convinced:


There are images of the same thing here but no conclusive ID of what it actually is:


Maybe also google conger skull and study the upper portion, see what you think?


leistonroy's picture

black skull

Thanks. They are similar, but no positive species named. If a sturgeon, wouldn't it have to have come all the way across the North Sea from the Baltic area? Possible I suppose.

nightfly's picture

It possibly would have had

It possibly would have had to. As far as I know British rivers once experienced runs of sturgeon but this is probably now ancient history and I am not clear on the facts. It has a slightly pike-like profile also but the little turned up snout if that is actually the snout end is funny. That little feature may well help bring this closer to an ID in the long run?

Pike unlikely-


JoC's picture

Bacterial decompostion

Bacterial decomposition of organic material in anaerobic aquatic environments produces hydrogen sulphide which turns everything black.


Ferret's picture

Not a Skull

I don’t think this is a skull I am fairly sure it’s the pelvis of a bird, they are commonly misidentified as skulls.


leistonroy's picture

Museum curator I.D.

Colchester museum curator of natural history identifies it as fish skull, probably cod, and supplied me with photo of cod skull to compare. It is the top portion minus jaw. My photo was upside-down!

Masked Marvel's picture

If it's a fish you can move

If it's a fish you can move it to the fish section using the edit tab at the top of the observation.

nightfly's picture

Indeed, I questioned which

Indeed, I questioned which way up this should be, when trying to match it to the upper part of a conger skull I actually was using it the right way up- but not when I was speaking about the up-turned snout. In this cod skull image here you can see where it is at the cranium region, it could be cod or maybe something with a very similar skull:-


This linked skull image possibly shows an even better similarity to the other iSpot observation I linked above in the first comment:


The object is the brain containing part of the skull. whatever its technical name is, maybe cranium?


nightfly's picture

Hi Leistonroy,

Hi Leistonroy,

Useful diagram here:-


Could we be looking at an 'Occipital region' or maybe even the 'Investing bones', I think its the former, the bit which the vertebae are attached to?

More useful images here inc skulls of cod, haddock, ling and coalfish.