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BNiem

Lower Jaw - Possibly Cow Or Bison?

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BNiem

I found this a few years ago in the Salt Creek in Illinois and I think it is a cow or bison jaw. I was wondering if there was a way to tell if the bone has been fossilized of if it is bone that is just old and sat in a creek for a very long time? .

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sward

I've always heard that if you put a match or cigarrette lighter to it, if it smells like burning hair, it's not fossilized. If you get no smell, then it's fossilized.

Nice find, either way.

Oh, just noticed that you're new. Welcome to the forum!

Edited by sward

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Rob Russell

Hello BNiem, and welcome to the forums from another suburbulite chicagoin! :) Great pictures of an awesome piece. I happened to find two jaw bones this past week, and are posted just a few threads away here in the ID forum. Mr. Pristis was kind enough to provide the info needed to make a personal assessment. I hope it enables you to do the same.

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tommcclees

If its heavy and you tap it on a counter top and it sounds like a rock then its fossil. I don't know if it's cow or bison but i would say its modern because of the white teeth. I'm wrong all the time tho (:

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BNiem

I held a lighter to the jaw in several places and there was no smell and considering its weight I assume that means it is fossilized or mineralized (not sure of the correct terminology). Cattle have not been in this area for about 100 years and I have read bison were pushed out of this area in the late 1700's. Rob after reading the thread you started I am still unsure. There are definite stylids but the measurements of the teeth are a bit smaller than the ones on the chart. I did notice the measurement chart is for two extinct species of bison and I cant seem to find information regarding modern bison tooth measurements. So for now it remains a mystery :unsure:

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Auspex

Caution (applied skepticism) is the best friend accuracy ever had ;)

The "burn test" has revealed that the collagen protein has leached out of at least the near surface of the bone, and its density is suggestive of mineralization, so it is not brand new. The rates at which these two changes in bone can occur are quite variable, so conclusions of antiquity cannot be supported by this evidence alone. Morphology is the next best hope, and sometimes a lot of research is involved in tracking down reference material. Personally, I like that kind of challenge!

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Rob Russell

Great point Auspex! I would urge you to contact the geology department of your state museum. This past april I took every bone that I had found to date to the Illinois State Museum. Dr. Cris Widga spent the better part of 3 hours with me and my finds. (At that point all I had was old bones. :) ) I was also shown the entire collection (thousands) of bones from the pliestocene that had been found here in the state. So not only was I able to get positive IDs on my finds, but I was able to establish a great working relationship with Dr. Widga. I'll be returning this fall with many other specimens. :) I hope this helps.

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