This week I have an object for you to identify that I recently re-identified from the Horniman’s collections. Any idea what this is:
I’m at a conference today, so I may not be able to respond to questions and comments, but please feel free to ask them anyway and I’ll do my best to reply. Good luck!
C**s*w**y *l*w ?
The Cassowary has quite a straight claw: https://paolov.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/friday-mystery-object-44-answer/
Looks a little too recurved for a C**s*w**y, perhaps U**u* a*er**a*us?
Ooooh, veliciraptor claw! Umm, no … Sensible answer… Umm….
Wedge-tailed eagle claw?
Not a thorn. Not a squid claw. Raptors (and birds in general) have claws with a rounded cross-section. This one is quite flat. Some reptiles have similar claws, but the only one this large with this approximate cross-section is the Komodo; and it’s not a good match. So, a large mammal then. Anteater claws are longer and thinner, aardvarks shorter and stubbier, sloth claws longer and less curved, as are seals. Large cats have similar claws but they tend to be almost S-shaped on the inner curve. That leaves one other group of large, clawed mammals (I can think of) and I think Palaeosam has it spot on.
They’re not as strongly curved
Close, but no cigar
Phooey. I was so sure it was a sloth bear claw! Flummoxed now.
It is similar – sloth bears are a little bit less strongly curved and they seem to lack the melanin that gives the claw a dark colour, at least in the examples I’ve seen.
My only other guess is grizzly bear… can’t quite find one as curved as this tho… but the bump on the inside of the curve seems in the right place.
After some exhaustive Academic research (*cough* Google Images trawl *cough*) I found this surprisingly good comparison chart, in a hipster music page of all places (link below).
It seems the slight bump in the inside curve of our claw (right above the 3cm mark) might be diagnostic. I’m going to say our mystery object belongs to a big furry plantigrade, sp. indeterminate…
Here’s that link, should you be interested in hipster music: