Friday mystery object #32

Friday is upon us once again. This week I am handing over to my esteemed colleague Dr. Dave Waterhouse from the Norwich Castle Museum to provide the mystery object for this week…

I promised Paolo ages ago that I’d supply him with some suitable mystery objects for his blog. So here’s the first of many (hopefully).  I’m Assistant Curator of Natural History with Norfolk Museums Service, and as such get a load of weird stuff from members of the public for me to try to work out what it is.  This week’s weird thing is the small dark grey object that you can see below.  To put it in context, it was found on a beach near Cromer (North Norfolk coast), and that’s all the information the finder gave me!

As usual put your suggestions and questions below and Dave will provide what answers he can during the day. Good luck!

20 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #32

  1. It looks like a tooth crown of molar from the lower jaw of a biggish mammal, possibly a carnivore (bear? hyena?) from the Cromer Forest-bed Formation, around 750,000 years ago.

  2. It bears some resemblance to the explody egg type thing I found on the beach near Hunstanton. It still makes Mrs SmallCasserole laugh since I subjected the object to a series of investigative tests including a firm squeeze at which point it ruptured and covered me with a black goo!

    I believe that it’s the egg casing of something like a small shark.

    • You say it’s a wild guess, but on twitter you gave the correct species name, so I think that you are doing a bit more than guessing (either that or your guesses are wicked sharp).

    • You’re not far off regarding the size and I’m pretty sure the animal in question would have been very happy to eat liquorice. However, the black colour is due to permineralisation – the minerals comprising the tooth enamel and dentine have been replaced by minerals from the surrounding sediment.

  3. Yup, I reckon it’s a molar of the ancient cave bear Ursus deningeri. It’s too flat to be a hyena or a dog, and that was the species of bear that was around at the time.

    Disclaimer: I did my PhD on Ice-Age mammals (bison, though, not bears) and I’m fairly familiar with the Cromer Forest-bed Formation. My external PhD examiner was Dr Tony Stuart, who is the world expert on the vertebrates of the Cromer Forest-bed Formation. Tony also used to work at Norwich Castle. What’s more I live in Cromer … and Tony lives not far from me.

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