This week I have a bit of break from the norm. Rather than giving you a specimen from the Horniman to identify, I have a couple of guest mystery objects from Cyler Conrad for you to attempt.
These two bones were uncovered in an archaeological site in San Francisco, California, USA and they are proving hard to identify. Any idea what they might be from?
As always, you can put your comments and suggestions below, but please also feel free to engage in discussion about these objects – let’s see what emerges!
1. R. f ?
2. ***iu* ?
Sounds good to me.
I agree with Jake. Now what animal? An obvious choice in an archaeological site would be C.l.f?
Also, other than one being broken, they don’t appear to have been butchered.
Early people would have needed skins as well as meat.
Interesting suggestion. I can’t find a good image for comparison as yet. The density seems a bit low for a whale, but that may an artefact of preservation.
I took Z.c. to be a different aquatic beast
Yes as the daughter of a furrier, I was thinking of something with short robust limbs that would be of interest to trappers, so there would be A************ t******** or C********** u******* as possibilities as well.
Family O******** would need all four limbs robust enough to be weight bearing.
The upper bone looks like a good match for a Z.c. femur. The lower doesn’t seem to match any of the long bones except perhaps the phalanges of the fore limbs; they are large!
I’ll go with that.
The one thing that makes me think it might not be a sea lion or fur seal femur is that the articulation forms a single broad surface rather than two discrete surfaces as I’d expect from a limb that
bearstransfers weight in the vertical plane.
Take a look at this: http://www.theboneman.com/images/photo11a.JPG
It shows the femur quite well, but I still can’t see if it’s one or two surfaces. Also, assuming the taxidermy is correct, the femur is horizontal.
Sorry, I didn’t mean that the femur is vertical, just that the articulations are transferring the load vertically to the tibia and fibula, thereby requiring two discrete articular surfaces. In seals there isn’t the same vertical load bearing by the hind limbs, so the articular surface tends to be less defined…
Ah, right, got it now. Thanks.
Aha! Sorry, not sure how I missed that one! I was thinking Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris) rather than the more sensible aquatic leonine.
The bones look quite, so perhaps a G*** l*****?
Erm, “quite robust” was what that was supposed to say
…and I meant G*** g*** l***** (why is there no delete in WordPress?)
It looks too robust for a Wolverine: http://verlag.nhm-wien.ac.at/pdfs/110A_123132_Diedrich.pdf
In case it helps, these were excavated from a site dating to the early 1800’s on the original shoreline of San Francisco Bay. Of course it is possible that the material may have been deposited earlier and was mixed with the historical deposits, yet so far it appears that the site has good stratigraphic integrity.
Another animal that may well have been hunted for fur on the coast would have been Enhydra lutris. From the images of E.l. femurs I’ve been able to find, they seem to have two articular surfaces. The size and general shape seem a good match.
They do seem to have two distinct articular surfaces, which probably rules them out.