I was getting excited about this being the first anniversary of the Friday mystery object, but I just realised that will be next week with number 53 (and I have something made of awesome lined up for that). Instead I will see my first year of mystery objects out with something hastily chosen from some old images I had on my hard drive, because my USB memory stick let me down. Don’t get me wrong though, this is an elegant structure that is deceptively simple and is worthy of mystery object status. So here it is:
So, do you have any idea what this is?
As usual you can put your suggestions, thoughts and questions (and random guesses) below and I will do my best to answer. Good luck!
How long is the piece of string please?
Not sure about the string, but the object is about 9cm or three and a half inches.
I am going to make a big guess.
Is it an earbone that has been turned into a whistle ?
Not an earbone, but your observation is a very good one… you’ll see why!
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Is the official song when handling this specimen I think.
Very nice, very nice indeed! Not only have you got it right, you’ve done so in such a way as to keep the game open. I salute you!
But it looks too robust to be a bird!
It is too robust to be a flying bird.
Its a piece of string. Possibly hemp rather than cotton? Its also attached to a piece of bone, but we’re not interested in that are we?
I think you’re right about the string – well done! I guess that means we’re stuck with the bone now…
Is it complete, or are there parts missing/damaged?
The only damage is from the holes for the string and a couple of fine processes that have been partly snapped off.
The lighting on the image makes it look like there’s a hole on the other side of the specimen, which means we’re looking for a bone with two holes at roughly 90 degrees to each other.
Is it a skull?
Not a skull I’m afraid.
Going on the clues thusfar- and the string, its a hyoid. And Robert Grant’s pun made me howl once I got it.
Marvelous! Well done and good punning yourself!
I was going to say an ear-bone that had been turned into a whistle. The ‘Alouette’ clue – and the fact that the bone is hollow – suggests that it’s a whistle made from the long bone of a bird.
Aha – the ‘Alouette’ clue has misled you. This is neither a whistle nor anything made from the long bone of a bird…
The clue is both more and less subtle than you think…
Alright, I have a question.
Is the hole for the string anthropogenic?
Yes, the string holes are anthropogenic.
I think I understand @Robert Grant’s clue but am at a loss as to how to describe what I mean as deftly as him. Did this object serve as a means of propulsion?
Hmmm, not really propulsion and certainly not propulsion in the sense of locomotion…
Aaah well I had @Robert Grant’s clue incorrect so!
Was it used as a tool or part of a tool?
That’s a good question – I don’t think it was actually used as a tool at all and it may possibly just have the string to help mount it on the specimen it originaly came from, although I’m sure it could have quite a few uses in this form (to which I must proclaim ignorance).
okay is it a ground bird, and if it is then is it the neck bone of turkey?
Also has the piece been altered other than the string holes?
of a turkey?
It’s not actually from a bird at all and it is fairly unaltered apart from string holes and some breakage of a couple of slender processes.
oh dear seems I didn’t read all the prior comments.
oh please let this inspiration be correct! is the song used as a memory aid and is the piece really old?
The song isn’t a memory aid and the piece is probably from the early 1930’s
Slender processes? Was it a neck vertebra before it was made into a tool?
Not quite, but very close (although I’m not sure that this has ever been used as a tool…)
Is it from a wolverine or other animal trapped for fur?
Interesting angle… but no.
I don’t know the animal, but is it off a musical instrument that you blow through ?
It’s not really from a musical instrument – and it certainly isn’t something that you’d blow through.
Wow, I’m out all day and the game is still on, the only one who got having been so subtle. Too subtle for me …
But is it used in a game? We have learned it is not a whistle but is it a cup of some kind? For catching tiddled winks or winked tiddles, whichever way round it is? Or shaking dice?
Yer mother again …. is it ‘played’ by being whirled around on the string’ is it a bird lure?
Sorry I was on the train. Always a bit hit and miss. That should read .. is it ‘played’ by being whirled around on the string? Is it a bird lure?
It’s not played as such.
Maybe it’s a dried seed pod that’s whirled round and round to make a sound.
Nope, it’s bone and it’s involved in making sound in an entirely different way than everybody is thinking…
The voice box of something ???
Aha! Very good! It’s not the actual voice box, but it is connected to it (both physically and functionally).
OK, having looked at the very astute Mr Grant’s reply again, I note he took care to add the second line. I had been thinking along the lines that alouette can mean either lark or game bird generally, therefore this was something associated with a game or with hunting birds, but now I’m wondering – is it to do with plucking? I think that would fit a thumb?
Is it a plectrum used to play a musical instrument?
Nope. Nothing to do with plucking. Also, nothing to do with game birds!
Hmm, is the little imp in the detail here? Reading between the lines, *is* it to do with a game or larking around then?
Nope – not at all.
Is it used for making a noise to attract prey during hunting?
I doubt it, although I suppose that could be a possibility…
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