This week I have a couple of guest mystery objects for you to have a go at identifying. Here’s the first:
And this is the second mystery object:
These photos are from Katharine Edmonson and they’re real mysteries, so no need for cryptic clues or hints – let’s see if we can work out what these are using our collective knowledge. Should be fun!
The first one looks like a sperm whale tooth – the second looks like a sperm whale tooth as well – 🙂
When is a tooth not a tooth? Maybe when it’s a worm tube. (If the first one had been a fossil, my guess would be rudistid clam.)
Have these objects been worked over? Cut, polished, etc.?
One of them has for sure!
i know there is great difference between the teeth in sperm whales, but the top one look more phallic than the general triangular shape. ?
I like this idea. Even if it isn’t right, it’s a great suggestion.
Why could the first one not be a worn down walrus tusk?
Or even a horn?
OK, OK. They’re both sperm whale teeth.
The “annulated”(?) texture of the top one doesn’t look like any sperm whale tooth I’ve ever seen. (Admittedly, what I’ve seen were pieces of scrimshaw art in whaling museums: was a first step in scrimshawing to polish the surface to get rid of the annulation?)
The second one, assuming it is a tooth, has a root narrower than the crown: fair enough. But given where the narrowing begins, it would have had only a couple of inches above the gum line. Typical Physeter teeth are a lot bigger! Some other Odontocete?
I’m willing to assume that they are teeth. The top one is big enough– over six inches long– that it’s hard to think what other than a sperm whale could have produced it. Still… Look at the worn and polished front (distal? anyway, at the right in the top photo) end: assuming this was done while the tooth-bearing animal was still alive, it looks as if it got a lot of use, jabbing into fairly tough or hard things. Which doesn’t sound like a very sperm-whalish activity.
How about elephant tusk (from an immature individual, or a very small Indian female), used in “attacking” trees? The over-all shape looks tusk-is to me.
Majority opinion so far seems to be sperm whale, and that may be right, but it it is I’ll be surprised!
The lower one is so different in shape and surface texture that I would also be very surprised to learn that the two came from the same (kind of) animal. I note that Paolo doesn’t;t say (or quote Katherine Edmonson as saying anything about where or what they came from. I don’t know enough, or have access to enough comparison items, to go much further, but if I did my current working hypothesis would be that the two specimens are from different animals.
I agree Allen – they are from different animals… and I have never seen a Sperm Whale tooth that looks like either of them.
Googled “sperm whale tooth” and got some sites with pictures of (mostly scrimshawed) sperm what teeth. Strengthening my doubts about this identity for the top specimen. (i) shape is wrong: none shown have a narrowness (length/width) like this. (ii) many sperm whale teeth have “striations” on the root ward portion, but these striations are longitudinal: none have the ridges/grooves going around the circumference. (iii) and I think the cross section of this one is closer to circular than typical for sperm whale teeth.
So Paolo? What’s the answer? We’re all agog.
Thanks for asking! I thought I’d already posted the answer, but it turns out I did it as a “page” instead of the usual “post”. That has been rectified now! https://paoloviscardi.com/2019/12/21/friday-mystery-object-371-answerish/