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Vertebra - fossil or bone?


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Hello, I am reaching out to you all to see what everyone thinks!  How do you tell if a bone has fossilized or not?  I fished this vertebra out of the Red Deer River this summer, buried in the silt, very near to Dinosaur Provincial Park.   It is quite heavy, which makes me wonder if it's fossilized?  Does the dark color suggest fossil?  I was thinking just a big ole' cow or elk vertebra, maybe not that old?  But I would be remiss if I didn't pose the question to you all who see these things all the time! Any input would be greatly appreciated!







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If it were modern bone, would probably feel rather light, even for the size. If it is surprisingly heavy, some mineralization probably occurred. More research about the rock formations in the area could help identify. 


I've heard some people discuss a "burn test". Never tried it, but from what I hear, if you take a flame to it for a minute, and it smells like burnt hair, it is modern and has not mineralized. If there is no odor, than you are holding a fossil that has mineralized. 


Others with more experience will chime in soon. I think it's cool vert regardless!

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So, I believe it would be in the Dinosaur Park formation of the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) but if it's a good ole' cow or bison, that doesn't really matter :) Thanks a bunch already!


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The Amateur Paleontologist
29 minutes ago, pawprints said:

So, I believe it would be in the Dinosaur Park formation of the Late Cretaceous (Campanian)

Remains of present-day animals can be quite frequently encountered in fossil sites (I myself saw some deer bones here and there when I went to DPP) - after all, just because life exists somewhere at a certain point does not mean that life won't ever exist at that place again, right? ;)  

Anyways, it's a nice bone you found :)


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