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ElToro

Strange marks on Irish Elk metacarpus.

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ElToro

I recently acquired this Irish Elk metacarpus from the North Sea. Upon closer inspection I noticed a series of scratch or cut marks on one end of bone. Anyone have any ideas? Marks from dredge? Butchery marks?

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Mike from North Queensland

Not being an expert but because the surface of the scratches is lighter in colour than the patina of the rest of the specimen I would suspect they are fairly recent so netting or dredging theory looks a good candidate. As the specimen looks to have been coated it is difficult to tell.

Mike D'Arcy

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ElToro

Yea, bone is coated. Ahh, I see. If different colour, then done later. I gotta look close when I get home from work. There was hardly any colour difference, so I had to shine light on it at angle to show marks.

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Rockwood

It could be an artifact of it's taphonomy. Not being a marine animal, the bone could have been damaged during the course of deposition.

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LordTrilobite

North Sea bones are fished up from the depths with large nets that are dragged along the bottom. It's possible that the bone was damaged when it was found.

But...

I have around a 100 Mega Fauna bones from the North Sea and I have not seen such clear repeating marks before. Some bones do have scratches, but they are much more random in appearance. The bones from the North Sea are also quite hard, so it doesn't scratch that easily. Bones do sometimes show bite marks from Hyenas for example. The repeating nature doesn't suggest random damage. So either bitemarks or man made (pleistocene or recent)

Edited by LordTrilobite

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ElToro

North Sea bones are fished up from the depths with large nets that are dragged along the bottom. It's possible that the bone was damaged when it was found.

But...

I have around a 100 Mega Fauna bones from the North Sea and I have not seen such clear repeating marks before. Some bones do have scratches, but they are much more random in appearance. The bones from the North Sea are also quite hard, so it doesn't scratch that easily. Bones do sometimes show bite marks from Hyenas for example. The repeating nature doesn't suggest random damage. So either bitemarks or man made (pleistocene or recent)

Thanx mate, yea I'm very hesitant calling it "butchery marks" until everything else is ruled. I was thinking the same thing about the dredging. It would have had to have a lot of weight behind it and super sharp jagged rocks under it to make those cuts. Because I hunt and butcher myself, they do look like marks associated with the skinning and butchery of the leg. They are near the end of the bone where the tendons attach. And repeating short cuts are exactly what you would have to do with flint tools. Hmmmm.....

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LordTrilobite

Yeah I don't hink it's damage from rocks. Since it's from the North Sea, judging by the colour it's likely to come from the Brown Bank, which is an underwater sandbank. The many fossils I have from there don't have this kind of damage. Imo, if the bone is damaged during retrieval, parts would break instead of just scratching a little. the scratches would likely also be more random than this.

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ElToro

Yeah I don't hink it's damage from rocks. Since it's from the North Sea, judging by the colour it's likely to come from the Brown Bank, which is an underwater sandbank. The many fossils I have from there don't have this kind of damage. Imo, if the bone is damaged during retrieval, parts would break instead of just scratching a little. the scratches would likely also be more random than this.

Yea, I showed it to my veterinarian friend and he has never seen marks like this. He thinks that someone may have cleaned the bone for use as a tool.

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jpc

I will say they are not rodent gnaw marks.

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ElToro

I will say they are not rodent gnaw marks.

I've thought about bite marks but there are no corresponding bite marks for the other jaw. Shouldnt bites have two sets of marks?

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sjaak

Interesting, but I agree that the marks have a lighter colour. This points to dredging damage. The bones have been trawled in a fishing net across the sea floor for quite some time. That may cause damage. Human cut marks are usally very sharp and have the same colour as the fossilised bone. However, in order to be sure I suggest you show it to an archeologist.

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sjaak

I've thought about bite marks but there are no corresponding bite marks for the other jaw. Shouldnt bites have two sets of marks?

Rodent marks do not have two sets. Also deer sometimes gnawing bones in search for calcium.

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ElToro

Thanx guys. I'll drag it down to the local museum. See if they got any ideas.

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Auspex

I think that, being diagonal to the shaft, animal teeth were not involved in making the marks.

Beyond this, I cannot interpret their origin with any confidence.

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