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How To Tell A Horse Skull From A Cow Skull

Telling a horse skull from a cow skull is easy once you recognize a couple of key differences.



Before we dive in, we'd like to say:

For the purposes of this article when we say "cow" skull we're referring to:

There are numerous differences between a horse skull and a cow skull. However, we're only going to focus on two easily noticeable distinctions: The teeth, and a bony ridge on the forehead.

So lets get started......

Below: A horse skull on the left, a cow skull on the right.

A horse skull and cow skull side by side


Horse Skull Vs. Cow Skull: The Teeth Tell A Tale

If there is one, super easy way to tell the difference between a horse skull and a cow skull it would probably be the teeth:

First, A Look At Horse Teeth

The photo below shows a close-up look of a horse's upper jaw. Notice the incisor teeth.

Below: The top incisor teeth on a horse skull.

A close look at the incisor teeth on a horse skull

 

Even if a horse skull is missing some, most, or all of its upper incisor teeth you can see the sockets where the teeth used to be.

Below: You can see this horse skull has some of its upper incisor teeth, but others have fallen out. Even so, you can clearly see where the missing teeth used to be.

Missing incisor teeth on a horse skull

 

Next, A Look At A Cow's Dental Pad

The photo below shows a close-up look of a cow's upper jaw. Instead of upper incisor teeth, you can see there is a "dental pad" (also called a "browsing pad").

Below: The dental pad on a cow skull. Cows have dental pads on the upper jaw instead of incisor teeth.

The dental pad on a cow skull

 

Below: A cow's dental pad viewed from the side. Not only are there not any teeth, there aren't any sockets where teeth would have been.

The upper jaw of a cow skull showing the dental pad

 


Horse Skull Vs. Cow Skull: The Forehead

The forehead of a horse skull and cow skull look very different.

First, A Look At A Horse's Forehead

A horse's forehead is narrower than a cow's, and the slides slope downward from a bony ridge in the middle that looks like an upside down "Y."

Below: A horse skull showing the bony ridge on the forehead that looks like an upside down "Y." Each side of the forehead slopes downward from there.

The bony ridge on a horse skull

 

Below: The same horse skull as above, only with yellow highlighting.

Yellow highlights on a horse skull to show the bony ridge

 

Next, A Look At A Cow's Forehead

A cow's forehead is broader and flatter than a horse's without a bony ridge.

Below: A cow skull. Compared to a horse it is broader, flatter, and doesn't have a bony ridge.

The broad, flat forehead of a cow skull


One More Horse Skull / Cow Skull Comparison

Here are a couple of more horse skull / cow skull photos. This time, the photos show the full length of the skulls instead of being close ups.

Below: A horse skull. Notice the bony ridge on the forehead and the upper incisor teeth.

A horse skull lying in the grass

 

Below: A cow skull. The forehead is broader, wider, and flatter than a horse skull, and does not have a bony ridge. Also, the upper jaw has a dental pad instead of incisor teeth.

A cow skull lying in short grass


Horse and Cow Skulls: A Few Pieces Of Trivia

Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article there are numerous differences between horse and cow skulls. Yet, we've only mentioned two of them. That's because we decided to focus on two obvious differences that are easy to recognize at a glance.

However, there are several pieces of related trivia that we think are interesting and we'd like to mention them:




 



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