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Brandy Cole

My husband found this really large vertebra today in a south Texas gravel bar.

 

 

 

Looks a lot larger than the one bison thoracic vertebra I have, and the extra dorsal processes fused together are confusing to me.  I thought maybe it could be a sacral vertebra that has broken off from the others, but I don't see the large foramen that I would expect it to have.  Also it looks smaller than some of the measurements for mammoth that @JohnJ has posted for reference before in a post by @fossilus.

I also don't think it resembles the possible sloth in the post above.

 

Mastodon?  Small mammoth?  Large bison?

 

Excited, but stumped.  I've had a hard time finding good references about the differences between large mammal vertebra in the past.

 

Any ideas?

@digit

@garyc @Harry Pristis

@Lorne Ledger @Shellseeker

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Edited by Brandy Cole
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Brandy Cole

@Lone Hunter

Yep, sorry about that.  Just added.

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johnnyvaldez7.jv

That's a big ole boy. Nice find 

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Shellseeker

I think it is too small for the elephants.  I have some mammoth and mastodon and they are 150 mm across the centrum.

I recently found a Sloth caudal vert that had facet articulation surfaces missing here.

Cow/Bison have centrums that protrude more...

 

Note that Vert identification is extremely difficult,  I am going to settle on Equus.

https://www.bigfossil.com/fine-horse-vertebra---pleistocene-north-sea-37024-p.asp

 

I will NOT be surprised if I am wrong again...

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Now that's a trip-maker for sure!

 

My fossil knowledge gets incrementally better as I work with particular fossils. I've not encountered anything like this one before so it is well out of my league. The somewhat heart-shaped centrum may prove useful as a distinctive feature and I'll agree that the vertebral arch is rather wild looking on this one--looks like it articulated quite extensively with the adjacent verts. Once this gets a solid ID it will be a great example for us all to learn a smidgen more about large mammal verts. Hoping this rings a bell for @Harry Pristis or one of the other subject experts here. If we collectively draw a blank on this one I'd suggest sending the images in an email to Richard Hulbert at the FLMNH. He gets around 100 emails/day with ID requests and sadly a very significant number of those are for pareidolic pseudo-fossils (including a decent helping of Florida T-rex eggs just like we see here on the forum). I do know that he enjoys seeing actual fossils and his area of expertise is mammals so this would likely be a welcome ID request. ;)

 

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/museum-voices/richard-hulbert/

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Lorne Ledger

Wow that is a bit sucka,  too big to be even the biggest horse species.  It has to be elephant, sloth or maybe the big Camelops.

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mr.cheese

I am no doubt miles off here but could it be a large piece of an atlas as opposed to a vert? Whatever it is it is a contender for find of the month that is for sure! Well done!

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HuckMucus

I realize there has been extensive wear and breakage, but I get a feel of deformity out of this one.  There is is slight lack of symmetry to it, and large globular mass, beyond it's size.  I'm interested to see where this goes.

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Shellseeker

Here is a successful Identification of a similar sized vert found in Texas,

 

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mr.cheese

Well after a read of that I am willing to say it looks to me like a mammoth thoracic between 13 and 15.  It does have some discernible rib attachment indentations, but like the rest of it, they are a bit worn.

 

Honest I didn't just cut and paste that from your other topic shellseeker! :rolleyes:

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fossilus

My bet is sloth. I've found that it's generally very hard to nail down specifically which sloth, but sloth vertebrae are not uncommon in the Brazos. I've also found multiple mammoth/mastodon. The elephant verts all have look alikes easily found online.  The sloth have a lot more variability. 

As others have said yours is too large to be any but one of the largest animals, probably only elephant or sloth would fit the bill.

I've found hundreds of vertebrae and none of mine really look like yours.

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Brandy Cole

Thank you to all who replied!

 

The mammoth thoracic vert images compare well in many ways, but I agree with @HuckMucus that there appears to be odd shape or deformity that makes me lean toward xenarthran as a possibility.  

 

Mostly because dorsally it looks to me like there's a partial fusion with at least one other vertebra that has broken off, which gives it that elongated shape along the top.

 

I checked umorf and the dorsal views for mammoth vertebrae look totally different.  But I guess that could just be that this particular animal had some type of fusion when most don't.

 

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Brandy Cole

Here's a view of the ventral side also.

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I’m not sure I have anything to add, other than I love it! Nice preservation and color even though there’s a lot of wear. I agree it looks like two partials that have fused 

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Brandy Cole
Posted (edited)

Dr. Hulbert was kind enough to take a look.  He said it was a mammoth or mastodon vertebra with a birth defect deformity where the upper portion of the neural arch and spine are effectively doubled.  

 

So, not sloth, but a very unusual proboscidean!

 

I'll have to take my husband along hunting more often.  Haha.

 

Thank you all for your help and interest!

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Nice to have experts we can lean on when we find oddities like this. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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