Sunday, March 3, 2013

Anatomy: Find the parts you know...

Recently, a student sent me this image of a common European mole skull (Talpa Europaea) asking how to find the eye socket on this little creature.  At first glance, it is indeed difficult to find because the eye is not where you expect it to be.  This mole, like most, spends nearly all of its time underground digging its way toward even smaller critters to eat.  It's need for sight is almost unnecessary and the eyes have become nearly vestigial as the skull, over time, has evolved to enhance other, more necessary features; smell and strong, crushing jaws, not to mention, very large forepaws for digging (not shown). 
Luckily, this animal is a mammal and with a little thought; you can locate landmarks in the bone structure that are comparable to anatomy we know well.  I have pointed out recognizable bone masses below.  The Zygomatic region (Zygomatic Process, Zygomatic Bone, and Zygomatic Arch all surround the Orbital (Eye) Socket and that tiny triangular shape is the home of the animal's eye.
Knowing this, we can now add the features.  This mole has a relatively large nasal opening, making its nose a big shape as it angles up off the snout.  Its large flat Mandible allows for a thick masseter  (jaw muscle) and the sloping arch of the epicranius allows for a very strong temporalis.  I have sketched in the head of this animal of the skull and below you can see the sketch more clearly.
 This was fun, and I'm glad I was given the chance to help out.  Remember folks, comparative anatomy: if you can find it on your skull/skeleton, you can probably find something similar on another animal as well even through variation.  Thanks for stopping by.
BTW, above is a super fantastic pose sheet for Mr.Mole from Disney's Wind in the Willows. They took some liberties here, but I love this character.