Friday mystery object #325

This week I have a genuine mystery object for you passed on from my NatSCA colleague Holly, that was found in a rockpool in Kimmeridge by 7 year old Annie when she was out fossil hunting on the beach:


Any idea what this object could possibly be?

I don’t think there’s any need for cryptic clues this time, as it’s a proper challenge and I’d love to hear what you think it is and what it’s from. Have fun!

13 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #325

  1. Instant thought was “Chicken femur” but that might be because I am currently marinating some drumsticks and thighs for purposes of frying them (Southern Fried Chicken style) in a few hours.

    Recency bias aside, the splintering might suggest mammalian rather than avian bone? Also the idea that it has a concave head is puzzling. As far as I recall (mentally running through images in my head) both ends of the proximal limb bones in tetrapods have convex ends?

    More google image searching required.

  2. I thought human finger (OK, I am reading a murder mystery – like Palfryman I seem to be influenced by outside forces, lol) but I think it looks more like a tarsal or metatarsal bone – turtle – otter – seal? It’s small – so maybe turtle? Is it fossilized? At any rate, nice find Annie, future scientist!

  3. You spin me right round, baby
    Right round like a record, baby
    Right round round round…
    i want to call out radius, but based on size and sheers numbers, i’d have to go with metatarsal.

  4. I’m leaning toward avian metatarsal, since the bird’s foot has to be sturdy, what with all that landing and walking, though this bone is thicker than I’m entirely happy with, for a bird. Still . . .
    Birds have 2,3,and4 metatarsals, moving from the inside out, on the three forward toes of the anisodactyl bird foot. Looking at the finger next to the bone fragment, I’d say it didn’t come from a delicate little shorebird . . . but that’s as far as I’ve gone in my detecting so far. Wish I could see what the protrusion in the cap of the bone looks like.

  5. Second thoughts here: I dug up a bird metatarsal from the archives. It was from a Cooper’s Hawk, much more delicate than a wading bird, yes. But the quality of the bone itself was much much lighter. I know bird species are wildly different in many ways depending on life style – but it swung me back into the mammal camp on this one. For the moment. Time to leave Google and apply to Gilbert, Martin, and Savage. . .

  6. Third thought: closest photo of a toe bone to the mystery one that I can find is one from a — turtle! The bird ones all seem to have some sort of ratcheting tendon framework at one end, and a more complex cup arrangement at the other. There is fusing of the tarsals and metarsals in the bird photos I found. Adams and Crabtree, Comparative Osteology. Gilbert was a sore disappointment, seeming to ignore avian toes altogether.

  7. Robin, I think you have something there. Maybe, given the shape, it’s one of the phalanges . . .I don’t know anything about the fauna of the British Isles, to try to piece out what kind of animal is likely to be leaving its poor bones in a beach pool, but this looks good.

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