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Miocene horse tooth from calvert cliffs?


Fossil_finder_

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Fossil_finder_

I found this land mammal tooth at Flag ponds on Calvert cliffs. It got me really excited when I found a mammal tooth, But I have no idea what it is. I was thinking Camel or horse because that is what it resembles. If anyone can help me get a positive ID on this that would be great!

Horse #1.0.jpg

Horse #2.jpg

Horse #3.jpg

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Rockwood

I'm thinkin' camel.

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Shellseeker

That is either a protocone or a stylid...  I think Stylid which means this is Bos or Bison.

 

5ff1ed2de64e5_Horse2c.jpg.a1dfc37b436398c6b2887a8f2dd0f2a8.jpg5ff1ed22da74e_Horse1c.thumb.jpg.dbe55b13fe27651d62f4972b8cfb4a30.jpg

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Rocca Hombre

Awesome find, that will keep you coming back, what s way to start off the new year, happy hunting

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Fossil_finder_

This is from Dr. Richard C. Hulbert Jr. Division of Vertebrate Paleontology in the Florida museum of Natural history.

 

The tooth is a partial upper molar of a member of the mammalian subfamily Bovinae. Details of its anatomy eliminate horse, camel/llama, moose, elk, and muskox as possible sources. Most living and fossil members of this subfamily are native to the Old World, with only Bison having dispersed from Asia into North America between about 200 to 300 thousand years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch. Most fossils from the Calvert Cliffs region are Miocene in age, and thus much older than this tooth.

 

Without being able to make first-hand observations on the specimen and direct comparisons with other specimens, I can offer three most likely sources for this specimen.

 

Option 1. Pleistocene fossil Bison tooth. The specimen seems on the small side for a Pleistocene Bison, such as Bison antiquus, which tend to be large than the modern species. The small size might be explained if the tooth represents the first upper molar, which tend to be smaller than the second and third molars.

Option 2. Early to middle Holocene Bison tooth. In this case it would represent the living species Bison bison.

Option 3. Colonial-age domestic cow tooth from circa 1600-1800.

 

The dark color of the tooth enamel suggests that the specimen is not modern.

 

I pray that the tooth isn't Dr. Hulbert's option #3 that would kind of stink. But the first two options reinforce what @Shellseeker said. Thank you all for the I.D. help.

 

 

 

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That is a splendid and lengthy reply from Richard. You could say you got that from the horse's mouth though the fossil in question is not equine. ;)

 

I'm assuming this came from loose material and not from a specific point in the formation so you can't really derive any age data from the vertical location. Likely, in a couple of hundred years a modern cow tooth would not have lost all of its collagen protein and would still produce a nasty 'burning hair' smell if a flame was applied to it. Occasionally, teeth found in creeks or ponds have a bit of a funky 'algae' kind of stink when heated but not like the rancid smell of protein being incinerated. If you have some other very definite fossils from the same area (shark teeth or the like) you could apply a flame (a lighter seems to work better than candles which produce an odor of their own). If you get a nasty 'protein burning' smell then likely your find is Option 3 above. If you get a faint smell but one similar to to that produced by another item that is clearly fossilized then you can have more confidence that it is some form of Bison.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Fossil_finder_

@digit

I did the burn test on three items, The tooth I posted, A partial shark vertebrae I found at the same site, and a modern deer femur.

Firstly I held the lighter under the femur for 10 seconds to see what that smelled like. Thank you for making me almost puke in the sink :).

Second, I held the lighter under the tooth I posted and it did produce an very faint odor, but it was different odor from the Femur.

Third, I help the fossil shark vertebrae over the flame and it gave off the exact same odor as the mammal tooth. which is probably a mix of the algae stink and the smell the lighter produced.

 

This further reinforces that my tooth is bison rather than cow but I would like to be 100% sure rather than 80 or 90% sure before saying it is bison. I might bring it to Calvert Marine Museum to get a 100% positive ID.

 

Thanks for all the help!

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Thomas.Dodson

You might not get the 100% ID you want because teeth from similar species like this are often more art than science. All the more so depending on the preservation. that said, I suspect Bison and I would like to see more pictures of the stylid. From what I can see the stylid seems rather thick walled and defined like in Bison. Cow teeth that have stylids tend to be rather weak and thin walled in the stylid and in wear the stylids may even separate from the tooth when the cementum is gone. I remember an old thread where Harry Pristis discussed this difference and pulled it up here.

Naturally a tooth in hand is better than a picture if you decided to take it to a museum. I'm in the Bison camp though.

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Fossil_finder_

Alright I might sound like an idiot saying this, but is the stylid the one on left or right of the second picture I featured ;) 

@Thomas.Dodson

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HemiHunter

I also found this relevant quote from a 1991 Washington Post article about Flag Ponds:

 

"Among Flag Ponds' most frequent finds are the broken tips of crab claws, millions of years old; fragments of gastropods (giant snails that crept across the ocean floor); portions of the mouths of stingrays; ribs, vertebrae, teeth and the inner ear bones of marine mammals; and even fossilized sand dollars. But land animals flourished in the tropical environment of the Miocene Age as well. It's not unusual to find, mixed in with the marine specimens, relics of the mammals that lived and hunted along the shore. Mary Piotrowski, the park's full-time naturalist, recently found several specimens identified as bison teeth."

 

So the old Post article confirms that bison teeth have been found exactly where you found this tooth.

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42 minutes ago, Fossil_finder_ said:

Thank you for making me almost puke in the sink :).

It's an indelible memory that will serve you well for future test. You had to set the benchmark (and you almost left your mark on the bench). :oO::P

 

27 minutes ago, Fossil_finder_ said:

Alright I might sound like an idiot saying this, but is the stylid the one on left or right of the second picture I featured ;) 

We welcome questions when they help to disseminate information. Here's an image from elsewhere on this forum courtesy of @Harry Pristis

 

post-42-0-83605900-1463340552.jpg

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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I've found a number of beautiful colored (red, orange even blue) horse teeth on the Potomac River.  The colors and the weight suggest fossils but they came from Eocene and Paleocene sites where there wasn't an overlaying Pleistocene or Miocene layer at the site or up river of the sites.  So unless they were contaminants, they are most likely modern teeth.  I've also seen other modern mammal teeth mineralize and color in the streams of Virginia that I collect.  So color, weight, even smell test can't help distinguish some modern teeth.

 

Marco Sr.

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If fossil bison it has survived much like a quartz pebble which is also a resistant clast. As an example, there are megalodon teeth all over the carolinas where there is no Miocene or Pliocene strata apparent for their derivation. They simply are more resistant than the other constituents they were originally found in. There are Pleistocene aged pebble lags at the top of many of our local quarries but not specific formations in most cases. Terrestrial and marine vertebrate fossils can be found in these beds. Haven't been to any of the great exposures in the Chesapeake region for several decades but I suspect that Pleistocene gravels may be above some of the exposures. 

 

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Fossil_finder_
21 hours ago, MarcoSr said:

I've also seen other modern mammal teeth mineralize and color in the streams of Virginia that I collect.

What do you mean by modern teeth mineralizing? 

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2 hours ago, Fossil_finder_ said:

What do you mean by modern teeth mineralizing? 

 

The teeth are hundreds of years old not thousands or millions of years old.  From Geoscience Research Insitute "How Long do Fossils Take to Form?" Raul Esperante  March 12, 2019:

 

 "Contrary to what many people believe, permineralization may not take a long time. Given the right geochemical conditions during burial, permineralization can occur rapidly: ranging from within a few hours to a few years, depending on the size and nature of the original material."

 

Marco Sr.

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