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Canid Skulls

Canid skulls (dog family)

Here are skulls from four kinds of canids (members of the dog family). 

What are they? 

Top to bottom:

  • Wolf ( Canis lupus ),
  • Coyote ( Canis latrans ),
  • Gray fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus ),
  • Kit fox ( Vulpes velox )

Sizes and shapes of skulls, teeth and skeletal pieces help scientists distinguish the different kinds of mammals.



Two kit fox skulls show different degrees of cleaning

Skeletons must be cleaned and preserved to maintain their research value over time. Read more about how to properly prepare specimens.






Gray fox partial skeleton



This partial skeleton of a gray fox shows the results of careful cleaning.








Fox skulls

Look for the differences between these two fox skulls. The gray fox (left) is wider across at A than the kit fox. the temporal ridges (B) are U-shaped in the gray fox, but V-shaped in the kit fox.







Coyote skull
Coyote skull

Coyote and wolf skulls are longer than 160mm. Coyote skulls are rarely over 200mm while wolf skulls are usually more than 225mm. This skull is 185mm long.



Coyote jaw with teeth
Coyote jaw showing teeth wear

Skulls from older animals often show extensive tooth wear. Which of these two lower jawws is from the older coyote?.


Wolf skull
Wolf partial skull

The male wolf skull (left) specimen was collected in 1925 in Oregon. The male skull is 252mm long while the female skull is 227mm long. Note the difference in the size of the sagital crest as well.