Friday mystery object #209

This week I thought I’d give you an object to identify that I was asked to look at by one of the other curators at the Horniman Museum:


This object is pretty easy to identify in terms of function, but the trickier job is to work out what part of which animal has been used in its construction. Any ideas?

You can put your thoughts below and let’s see if you come to the same conclusions as me. Enjoy!

15 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #209

  1. I don’t know anything about identifying bones so I’d just have to guess that its maybe a femur or one of the lower leg bones as it seems to straight to be a rib?
    P.S. I enjoyed your talk at the Merseyside skeptics and was good to meet you, thanks for taking the time to visit

  2. Clearly this is a homemade straw for a pudding-based drink. As for which and whose bone, I’m going to stick out there, deer metacarpal.

  3. Hey hey, its a whistle, from a big Bird rib ???? just because it’s almost hollow… But that doesn´t seem possible, so its from a capra rib =))

    It is not a metacarpal ( I think, because it has a good curvature)

  4. It’s been hollowed so hollow I think is out as a characteristic. Tibia is a good one! It does seem to have a ridge along the median of the shaft and a gentle curve to it. Possible radius or ulna as well as the distal bits have been sawn off. Can’t be dik dik, too large. Springbok?

  5. I’m not a real bone guy, just an archaeologist in the American Plains. It’s certainly a dance whistle that is common on the Northern Plains. The Peyote (or Gourd Style) stitched beads are common with the Native American Church but could just be a traditionalist or Sundancer as well (and it’s modern of course). They are often made from swan bones but sometimes other big birds as well. I have excavated a couple and our osteo guys tell me some are large raptor. For the life of me, I can’t remember for sure but think they prefer the humerus. These are sacred objects to native groups here and are often afforded some extra care in handling.


  6. I’d say yes to the bone whistle. I looked at swans, but it didn’t fit. The closest thing I found was right humerus of Diomedea immutabilis, the Laysan albatross. The foramen was bigger than was in the skeleton I looked at though.

  7. I did look at a golden eagle humerus and a picture of bald eagle, but they have a lot of curve to them-though in context it would make a lot more sense- whereas albatross makes no sense. Wish I could get my hands on it to feel all the sides! Can’t wait to see what it is.

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s