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TomH

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello.
We have a “sea” of South Cerney gravel around the house and my son and I like fossil hunting through it. There are loads of belemnite fragments and various sea shells of different shapes and sizes, but I recently found this one, which looks like a piece of bone, or perhaps plant? You can see the porous cancelous like structure at one end. The length of this fragment is 4cm.
Can anyone help identify what it is/was?
Thanks!

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prep01

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hello Tom and welcome to the forum. It does looke bone to me, but with gravel, who knows what or where it originated from - it could have been anywhere North!
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Barrow Museum

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Reply with quote  #3 
South Cerney is south of the currently accepted maximum extent of Ice-Age glaciation, so a more local origin is probable.  I have visited your area many times over a couple of decades and have observed that most of the material in the gravels in that part of Wiltshire/Gloucestershire are reworked from the Kellaways Formation (Callovian Stage) or the Middle Jurassic limestones immediately to the west, over which the Thames has flowed since time immemorial.  A real expert in Jurassic vertebrates might recognise from which creature your piece of bone came.
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prep01

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Reply with quote  #4 
Barrow Museum - you may be correct, but in 2019 the gravel could have been from anywhere and transported many miles, even dredged from the sea!
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TomH

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for your thoughts already. Regarding to origin of the gravel, I’m sure it is from south Cerney, because of the supplier I bought from. Almost every handful of stones has some sort of fossil in it, so it’s so much more interesting than “regular gravel”

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TomH

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Reply with quote  #6 
“A real expert in Jurassic vertebrates might recognise from which creature your piece of bone came.”

Is there a way of first identifying if the bone is from Jurassic or Palaeocene periods in an area that has both geologies present? I.e. Dinosaur or mammal? The limestone around it does appear similar to that around the shells, which are apparently from the Jurassic bedrock.
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Barrow Museum

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Reply with quote  #7 
Yes, there is a way to differentiate between Jurassic bone (which you rightly note is the case for your fragment on account of its adhering limestone matrix).  Try touching your lip with a bone fragment...if it is Pleistocene (Not Palaeogene at South Cerney), then it will stick slightly to the damp lip skin on account of its porosity - it has lost all its collagen but not been mineralised yet.  A mineralised Jurassic bone won't stick, will feel heavier and harder with usually a darker colour.  Just beware of modern bone which also won't stick as it still contains collagen (and was probably part of someone's dinner!)
A lot of Pleistocene mammal teeth, tusk and bone comes out of your local pits and you will probably remember the complete  mammoth skull which used to be displayed in the Water Park visitor centre.  If you have not found any yet, then keep on looking because it is there.  If you do, then don't just let it dry naturally, but immerse it for at least a couple of weeks in a milky PVA suspension and dry it out very slowly, otherwise it will probably disintegrate.
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TomH

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Reply with quote  #8 
Great! Thanks for the explanation.
Now for the Jurassic vertebrate expert 😁
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Paleoworld-101

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barrow Museum
Yes, there is a way to differentiate between Jurassic bone (which you rightly note is the case for your fragment on account of its adhering limestone matrix).  Try touching your lip with a bone fragment...if it is Pleistocene (Not Palaeogene at South Cerney), then it will stick slightly to the damp lip skin on account of its porosity - it has lost all its collagen but not been mineralised yet.  A mineralised Jurassic bone won't stick, will feel heavier and harder with usually a darker colour.  Just beware of modern bone which also won't stick as it still contains collagen (and was probably part of someone's dinner!)
A lot of Pleistocene mammal teeth, tusk and bone comes out of your local pits and you will probably remember the complete  mammoth skull which used to be displayed in the Water Park visitor centre.  If you have not found any yet, then keep on looking because it is there.  If you do, then don't just let it dry naturally, but immerse it for at least a couple of weeks in a milky PVA suspension and dry it out very slowly, otherwise it will probably disintegrate.


I have collected Pleistocene bones that are only about 50 000 years old, and they are completely mineralised and as dense as your typical Jurassic bone from Lyme Regis or dinosaur bone from the Isle of Wight. Just because something is dense and well mineralised doesn't necessarily mean it is relatively old. Likewise, i have collected marine reptile bones that are over 100 million years old and they are still lightweight and porous like modern bones. It varies on a case by case basis.
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Barrow Museum

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Reply with quote  #10 
My comments are aimed at this specific case, which I know well, on the Wiltshire/Gloucestershire border where material is preserved in gravels deposited by the Thames and behaves in the way I specify.
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TomH

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks for all the help. I’ve got another one to check... can it be anything but a Jurassic tooth? Any ideas appreciated!

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Barrow Museum

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Reply with quote  #12 
It's not a tooth.  What it actually is, I cannot say from the photo alone, but from the colour and texture, I doubt it is fossil bone either.
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prep01

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Reply with quote  #13 
This looks like tar adhereing to a bit of rock. Check by holding a flame to the black area for a few seconds - but be careful!
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Colin Huller
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