Friday mystery object #36


Dr. David “Norwegian Blue” Waterhouse (from Norwich Castle Museum) has come through once again with a challenging mystery object. This was found in Thetford Forest about 20 years ago – do you have any idea what it might be?

As usual, put your suggestions in the comments section below and feel free to ask questions, which I will do my best to answer. Unfortunately Dave can’t provide the answers as he’s busy giving a talk in Great Yarmouth today. Good luck!

48 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #36

    • Hi Peter,

      It’s not fossil dung (or coprolite as it’s also known) – I really must put some of that up as a mystery object sometime.

      Hope the new house is working out well!

    • OK now I’m not looking at this on my phone it’s clearly marcassite or pyrite but you probably want to know what’s been preserved like this. My guess is a swoon (the correct collective noun for homunculi). Slightly eroded. :D

  1. I was going to go for coprolites. The broken bit in the first bit looks interesting, it looks like a “radial pattern”* mineralisation of something organic. How about the mineralised remains of part of a tree or fern or other largish plant?

    Grimes Graves is in Thetford forest – a prehistoric flint mine – I’m wondering if this is useful information.

    *radial pattern is a term I made up myself, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  2. well, i can’t come up with anything more appropriate than the previous guesses, so i’m going to say i think its a fossilised wood elf’s hand (come on, that first pic has a definite fist look to it!) :D

  3. A land snail or similar fossilised but the shell has either disintegrated or become distorted due to pressure or it nevef had one as it’s a slug! :)

  4. I think it is a concretion. It looks like a dinosaur egg egg clutch we call extra small herbivore. However it lacks any egg shell pattern and the size is even smaller than the smallest known herbivore eggs (ovalized) found and identified so far (3cm diameter). Photo one with the broken sphere shows a growth pattern and center nut characteristic of a concretion.

  5. Apologies for not being able to answer questions yesterday – I was rushed off my feet and all the new viewers brought in via QI (hello!) meant I had far more comments pouring in than usual (plus an order of magnitude more views).

    Lots of great suggestions – I love the fossilised wood elf’s hand idea. There is a correct answer buried in there and it isn’t the dinosaur poo (aka coprolite), over-cooked food, fungi, meteorite, lightning strike, eggs or snail.

    It also isn’t anything I’ve touched on before (so not a bezoar).

    The answer will be posted on Monday!

  6. At first it looks like a collection of those little pine cone balls. You can even see a cutaway in the first photo on the top left – looks a little like a seed formation. Could they be petrified blackberries, or raspberries? Neat contest. Fun mystery :)

    • Not pine cones or the drupelets (individual seed-containing fleshy components of compound fruits) of petrified blackberries or raspberries.

      Glad you like the mystery object!

  7. I would like to see a close up on the broken area. The crystalline area appears to be quartz xls with secondary growth of chalcedony quartz covering the specimen, or the secondary could be an oxide like hematite or pyrolusite???

  8. Well, after scrutinizing the first photograph, I retract my first guess.

    It appears to be organic. A wood tumor of some kind???

  9. Looks like hematite. To confirm or kill my educated guess based on just a photo, you’d have to do a test or two to confirm its composition is basically iron oxide. Hematite appears many different ways in nature, one of the ways looks a lot like what you have.

  10. Pingback: 2010 in review « Zygoma

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