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I found this piece of bone while walking a bank a few miles below Hopewell on the James River this past weekend. My Rockd app says this area is the Charles City formation. The bank here is fine brown sand mixed with small pea gravel that turns into a marsh area. I've never found much bone or fossil type rocks at this spot before as this is a place we usually search for arrowheads and stone tools at this location. However just up river a mile or two I just found a bank in the same type formation that has a very large line of vertebra sticking out of the side of the bank. There on that beach up close to the bank is an area that is 15 to 20 feet wide and at least 40 feet long that is littered with bone fragments and small pieces of vertebra then up on the bank wall that is 4 to 5 feet higher than the beach there is this line of vertebra that runs horizontally for at least 40 feet maybe more. I didn't have time to get a really good look at this site because we had to leave but I plan on going back there soon to get some pics of that site. I don't know if this bone in my pics is related to this animal up the river but I guess it is possible.

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thelivingdead531

It’s not horse, but a bovine metatarsal. :)

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thelivingdead531

This is a horse metatarsal from my collection.

 

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3 minutes ago, thelivingdead531 said:

It’s not horse, but a bovine metatarsal. :)

Uups, you're right :DOH: - mixed it up with the search for Bos priscus....so yeah bovine ist the correct answer !

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Harry Pristis

Bovid, for sure.  A cow metacarpal, I think.  For comparison:

 

 

bison_metacarpal.JPG

bovid_metacarpal_greatestproximalwidth.JPG

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30 minutes ago, thelivingdead531 said:

It’s not horse, but a bovine metatarsal. :)

Rats!!........Foiled again, I thought I had something with this one. Oh well hopefully I'll have  better luck next go round. It sure looks like it's fossilized and heavy for the size it is but it has been in the water for for some time I guess. Still trying to figure all this stuff out. I sure wish now that I had listened better to my old biology teacher when I had the chance.:shrug: My :tiphat:off to you thanks for the ID.

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thelivingdead531
12 minutes ago, olddude said:

Rats!!........Foiled again, I thought I had something with this one. Oh well hopefully I'll have  better luck next go round. It sure looks like it's fossilized and heavy for the size it is but it has been in the water for for some time I guess. Still trying to figure all this stuff out. I sure wish now that I had listened better to my old biology teacher when I had the chance.:shrug: My :tiphat:off to you thanks for the ID.

I’m not familiar with your location and the fossils it has, but it might still be fossilized. I’m sure someone who is more familiar could help with that. Have you tried the flame test on it?

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5 minutes ago, thelivingdead531 said:

I’m not familiar with your location and the fossils it has, but it might still be fossilized. I’m sure someone who is more familiar could help with that. Have you tried the flame test on it?

I've heard of that but never tried it an not really sure how it's done.

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thelivingdead531
47 minutes ago, olddude said:

I've heard of that but never tried it an not really sure how it's done.

It’s pretty easy, just hold a lighter to the bone and if it smells bad, like burnt hair, it’s not fossilized and likely modern. 

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19 minutes ago, thelivingdead531 said:

It’s pretty easy, just hold a lighter to the bone and if it smells bad, like burnt hair, it’s not fossilized and likely modern. 

Thanks, I'll give it a go.

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thelivingdead531
6 minutes ago, olddude said:

Thanks, I'll give it a go.

Let us know how it turns out. :)

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Harry Pristis
37 minutes ago, thelivingdead531 said:

It’s pretty easy, just hold a lighter to the bone and if it smells bad, like burnt hair, it’s not fossilized and likely modern. 

 

All cow bones found in the USA are modern.  That is, such bones are not fossil even if they are mineralized.  That's just an historical reality.

 

There seems to be endless misunderstanding about the term "fossilized."

"Fossilized" (along with "petrified") is a near meaningless term in this specialized forum. The term is often substituted for "mineralized" in describing a bone or tooth. But, fossilized doesn't always equate to mineralized because many fossils are not reinforced or replaced by minerals.

Bone is primarily composed of hydroxyapatite and collagen. Hydroxyapatite is an inorganic compound of calcium, phosphate, and hydroxide which is organized in a crystal latticework that gives bone (and teeth) structural rigidity. It preserves well as a fossil under some conditions.

Collagen is a fiberous protein that serves as connective tissue in bones and muscles. It does not preserve well in a fossil. As collagen decomposes, it may be replaced in the hydroxyapatite latticework by minerals from the depositional environment (e.g. silica dioxide dissolved in groundwater).

Bone reinforced with exogenous minerals is said to be "mineralized." If the bone components (including the hydroxyapatite) are entirely replaced by exogenous minerals such as silica, it is said to be "replaced by -". If a bone is mineralized, it is more likely to be a fossil. If a bone is not mineralized, it is less likely to be a fossil. No absolutes, only likelihoods, because there are exceptions.


In the case of leaves and wood, as with bones, permineralization depends on the circulation of mineral-saturated groundwater. If there is limited or no circulation (or no suitable minerals in solution), then there is no permineralization. BUT, the organic remains - the leaves, or wood, or bone - are still fossils ("fossilized" if you like).

A 'burn test' or 'match test' will indicate only whether there is collagen remaining in a bone -- scorched collagen has an awful smell. Briefly apply an open flame (I prefer a butane lighter) to an inconspicuous area of the object . . . you cannot keep a pin hot enough long enough to scorch collagen. Tooth enamel contains hydroxyapatite, but doesn't contain collagen, so the 'burn test' on tooth enamel would be a waste of time.

The 'click test' - tapping a putative fossil against your teeth - was a joke that caught on. There are plenty of other things in the environment against which you can click a bone. Don't put the remains of dead, decomposed animals in your mouth.

:drool:

 

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@Harry Pristis, I think I finally understand this.  Let me check to see if my understanding is correct. 

  • A specimen can be a fossil but not have been mineralized (e.g., frozen mammoth in Siberia). 
  • A specimen can be mineralized but not be a fossil (e.g., a modern* cow bone in a permineralizing environment ).
  • A flame test is to determine if a specimen is mineralized; it does not confirm if the specimen is a fossil.

Do I understand correctly?

 

* Does modern mean Holocene in this context?

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Harry Pristis

 

In this thread, "modern" is limited to several hundred years.  I think of "modern" as "historical."

 

I would niggle  only with your third statement, or maybe suggest a fourth:

Mineralization makes a specimen much more likely to be a fossil rather than not a fossil.

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17 hours ago, thelivingdead531 said:

Let us know how it turns out. :)

About the way I expected. I got some smoke but not a real foul smell like I thought I would have but I think the amount of the smoke it put off would indicate that it was not a fossil or mineralized. I've read what Harry Pristis posted above about a dozen times and it is starting to sink in a bit I think. In this case here, just the fact that it is a cow bone would indicate that it was not going to be a fossil.

 

I think one of the biggest problems I have is that I have not seen enough of this kind of stuff to even know how to do a successful search of some of the stuff I have been finding. I knew it was bone but just typing  bone in the search box probably would not have been very successful.:shakehead: I'm thinking You have to have a pretty good understanding of the anatomy of all the many different types of life that ever lived to be able to sort out what one piece of the puzzle came from. The sad part for me is I have gotten to dang old to go back to school and learn all that stuff so hopefully you guys wont give up on me before a little of this stuff sinks in to where I don't have to be such a pain.:fear:

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17 hours ago, Harry Pristis said:


"Fossilized" (along with "petrified") is a near meaningless term in this specialized forum. The term is often substituted for "mineralized" in describing a bone or tooth.' But, fossilized doesn't always equate to mineralized because many fossils are not reinforced or replaced by minerals.'

Thank you for your reply it was very helpful. I had seen in other peoples threads where you responded with pretty much the same information and read those just like I did this one many times and I think it is finally sinking in a little. If you would please bear with me for a little I was wondering if you could give me examples of what type fossils these might be: ' But, fossilized doesn't always equate to mineralized because many fossils are not reinforced or replaced by minerals.'........  I'm thinking trace fossils maybe but that's just a guess.

 

Also, is there a difference between something being fossilized or petrified? 

 

In the case of leaves and wood, as with bones, permineralization depends on the circulation of mineral-saturated groundwater. If there is limited or no circulation (or no suitable minerals in solution), then there is no permineralization. BUT, the organic remains - the leaves, or wood, or bone - are still fossils ("fossilized" if you like).
 

Could you also give an example ( pictures would go a long way) of something being fossilized but not premineralized?:notworthy:

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Harry Pristis

European cave bear bones are a prime example of fossils that are not mineralized.

 

bear_metapodials_C.thumb.JPG.46f3ee32edd2c309f2501c29b1872cac.JPG

 

bearClawcore.JPG.5ed45f1c24d9149aa0fa9921379abec2.JPG 

 

bear_spelaeus.jpg.0a83e8bb1bbebd6834722d7a8170a0e9.jpg

 

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I guess I have a ways to go to fully understand all this but I think I finally figured out the mineralized and petrified thing. From this, I take it that they are the same thing. 

 

I'm still having a time with how a bone could be fossilized but not have it's organic matter replaced by dissolved minerals and still be considered a fossil. I can see the frozen in ice or the insect getting trapped in Amber thing an how they could be preserved that way for millions of years. I somewhat understand how organic matter can be covered over shortly after it's death, then over time this matter gets replaced by dissolved minerals that it's trapped by.  But this presents a new road block for me to understand. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to be combative I'm just trying to get a better understanding of how ALL of this stuff works.:zzzzscratchchin:

 

 

"(fŏs'əl) The remains or imprint of an organism from a previous geologic time. A fossil can consist of the preserved tissues of an organism, as when encased in amber, ice, or pitch, or more commonly of the hardened relic of such tissues, as when organic matter is replaced by dissolved minerals."

 

Oh, wonderful pictures by the way I hope to one day be able to master that art.

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Harry Pristis
On 4/28/2020 at 2:21 PM, Harry Pristis said:

Bone is primarily composed of hydroxyapatite and collagen. Hydroxyapatite is an inorganic compound of calcium, phosphate, and hydroxide which is organized in a crystal latticework that gives bone (and teeth) structural rigidity. It preserves well as a fossil under some conditions.

 

In a dry cave, for example, when the collagen disappears, the crystal latticework may remain intact, as with the cave bear bones.

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18 hours ago, Harry Pristis said:

 

In a dry cave, for example, when the collagen disappears, the crystal latticework may remain intact, as with the cave bear bones.

 

18 hours ago, Harry Pristis said:

Hydroxyapatite is an inorganic compound of calcium, phosphate, and hydroxide

OH!.........Now that makes sense. Thanks

 

 

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