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Tusk or Stone Carving Tool? Found in Eastern Iowa 1995


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Hi! Back when I was 10-12 I was hiking in Iowa when I found this "dinosaur tooth rock", which I have carried around for almost 25 years. I have always wondered if it was part of a mammoth tusk, a tooth, or maybe even a Native American whetstone. Or possibly just a weird rock? Any ideas?


Thanks so much for any input!!



Weighs = 2 lbs

Length = 7 inches

Circumference = 8.75 inches

Height = 2 inches


Screenshot_20210123-000915_Collage Maker.jpg

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Hi there,


Well, I can tell you one thing: it's neither a piece of mammoth tusk, a tooth, nor a whet stone. A tooth would have the glossy surface id enamel, whereas a piece of tusk would, additionally, show concentrical banding (as in the images below) - which is a hallmark of true ivory, ancient or modern (but excludes whale teeth, sometimes incorrectly identified as ivory too).



And while your specimen appears to have the right grain texture to have been used as a whet stone, for archaeologists to declare it as such, it would need to exhibit clear traces of use - that is, grooves into the stone - which I'm not seeing here...


Unfortunately, I think this piece of rock is just that - rock - although the cross-section looks like it might have some bone texture to it. May be you could post a bigger picture of it, so we can have a better look?


In any case, I'd say this is a great find, if you've kept it for all this time. Not only did it spark your fantasy back when, it's triggered your interest in fossils and archaeology, and hopefully will set you off on a great path of discovery!

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First, welcome to the forum! Lots of great information stored here on the forum and knowledgeable (if sometimes comic) members willing to share their expertise. ;)


It's an interesting rock and I can see why you've kept it for some time but I think its value is more sentimental due to your long history with it than scientific as it does not show the hallmarks of a fossil or cultural item. It's always more difficult to judge from photos along which is why we always emphasize good clear photos to give us the best chance of seeing it as well as you do in person. From the bottom right image I think I can see what appears to be layering which would indicate some sedimentary rock (laid down in layers). It appears to have been worn and rounded likely by water (river/stream/shore) and then broken in half giving the sharp clean break that allows us to see internal structure (which there isn't much of).


If you are interested in fossils (which seems to be the case) you are in a great location to go out and hunt for them. You can check out the state-specific subforum to get some ideas of what's happening near you:




There is also the Southwest Paleontological Society:




We'd love to see any other rocks you've had with you for some time and look forward to seeing your first fossils if you get out on a fossil hunting trip.






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  • 1 year later...

Hi! I found this in Vinton/Shellsburg, Iowa in the mid-90's. I was exploring a wooded area as a kid with my family. I believe we were hiking by some sort of river. This was partially buried in the ground. I have always been a rock collector so I took it home and have had it ever since! I've always called it my "dinosaur tooth rock". It's definitely not a dinosaur tooth, but would love if anyone had some insight!! Thank you!!








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I'm afraid after you drop the dinosaur tooth part you are left with, rock. :SadSmile:

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Looks like worn banded sandstone or quartzite to me. 

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Hi Tarin,


You may not have remembered posting this a year ago, but I've merged your current topic with the original one.  ;)

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