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Kansas River bone: Pleistocene or modern?


KCMOfossil

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Up to this point (over the last five years or so), all my local fossil hunting has been done in the Pennsylvanian of the Kansas City area.  Recently, however, I visited a sand bar on the Kansas River some 20 miles West of Kansas City.  I found one item of interest.  I suspect that it may be modern, although I'm hoping, of course, that it is Pleistocene.  Any ID help regarding age and animal will be welcome.  I know it is quite worn, so I won't be surprised if "yep, it's a bone" is all that can be said.  What do you think?

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CIMG7223 (2).JPG

CIMG7225 (2).JPG

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19 minutes ago, caldigger said:

Yep, it's bone. :rofl:

:ighappy:  If this were the game of Twenty Questions, we'd be well on our way!

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It does look suspiciously like it might be relatively modern. Hard to tell when you are finding an item in float and not in situ in a known formation. You could always try the flame test. Holding a corner of the item briefly in a small flame (candle, lighter, etc.) you should be able to smell the distinctive smell of burning protein if there is any collagen left in this specimen. That would tell you that it is relatively modern though it is not a very precise means of dating. If you are curious, light it up and let us know if it smells awful or not. :blink:

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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1 hour ago, digit said:

the flame test. Holding a corner of the item briefly in a small flame (candle, lighter, etc.) you should be able to smell the distinctive smell of burning protein if there is any collagen left in this specimen.

Thanks, Ken.  After about 10 seconds of my lighter flame, it does indeed have a mild burnt-hair smell, so, as you note, that would point in the direction of it being relatively modern.  I plan to go back to the Kansas River this fall so I hope to have more opportunities to use this test :D.  Thanks for the information.

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It's a pretty simple test. Protein can persist for some time in some well protected specimens (like items found in caves and other circumstances where the fossil is not subject to degradation or mineralization). Mostly though it is pretty reliable for telling the truly old material from the more modern. Your specimen could still be years, decades, or perhaps centuries old but not truly old like Pleistocene material.

 

Looking forward to seeing your next finds.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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