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Astragalus?


SoreBack

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Hello Folks,

I found this in a New Jersey stream that contains Eocene and Miocene fossils. It obviously wasn't in formation but loose in the gravel. Any help with an I.D. would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Steve

post-6302-0-37293900-1410109211_thumb.jpg

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In English language, a horse back ankle bone. What area did you find the bone? I'm documenting NJ mammal fossil finds. Documented early horse remains are practically unknown in NJ.

Edited by jpevahouse
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JP, I'm sure you have the record of Equus from the clay at Fish House, near Camden?

Edited by RichW9090

The plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence".

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This bone came from southern Monmouth County and we found a horse tooth in the same location. I'll post a photo of the tooth after work.

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check out the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society- DVPS publication The Mosasaur Volume IV for an article titled "Preliminary Reexamination of the Fish House Local Fauna and Flora (Pleistocene), Pennsauken, Camden County New Jersey.by Bogan, Spamer, Manville, Gallagher, and Cain.

Your in Luck because the same Volume has "Quaternary Mammals from the Continental shelf off New Jersey" by Gallagher, Parris, Grandstaff and Detample.

You can order the Volumes from the DVPS. I'm sure there are other articles in other Volumes when you check out the titles

Volume I looks promising with an article "New and revised record of Pleistocene Mammals of New Jersey" by Dave Parris

Edited by squali

It's hard to remember why you drained the swamp when your surrounded by alligators.

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JP, I'm sure you have the record of Equus from the clay at Fish House, near Camden?

The fish house specimen was uncovered by workmen in 1868 and the specimen lost long ago. It is unclear if there is an authoritative identification of the maxilla section with teeth. There was also a reported find of a equus patella in 1897. The problem with the specimens is they were found during excavation clay for a nearby brick works and the workmen had no knowledge of stratigraphy. The site is along the banks of the Delaware River and has long since been completely destroyed by clay mining. No paleontologist has examined the site in modern times and there is some suspicious of contamination of the strata.

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check out the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society- DVPS publication The Mosasaur Volume IV for an article titled "Preliminary Reexamination of the Fish House Local Fauna and Flora (Pleistocene), Pennsauken, Camden County New Jersey.by Bogan, Spamer, Manville, Gallagher, and Cain.

Your in Luck because the same Volume has "Quaternary Mammals from the Continental shelf off New Jersey" by Gallagher, Parris, Grandstaff and Detample.

You can order the Volumes from the DVPS. I'm sure there are other articles in other Volumes when you check out the titles

Volume I looks promising with an article "New and revised record of Pleistocene Mammals of New Jersey" by Dave Parris

I have both articles. The Fish House site adjoined the Delaware River and was destroyed by clay mining long ago. No modern investigation of the site or reported finds has been made because the reported fossils were lost and the site long destroyed. I would not use that site as evidence of Pleistocene fauna.

The article about off shore Pleistocene finds does not include horse, deer, peccary and some other animals common in other areas of the country.

I am at a lost to find any real evidence of the horse in NJ Pleistocene fauna. Also bison and camel. Though a collector reports what he identified as a camel molar in Monmouth County I suspect is caribou, a well documented ice age animal in NJ. If it is a camel he was a very, very lonely camel.

Edited by jpevahouse
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This bone came from southern Monmouth County and we found a horse tooth in the same location. I'll post a photo of the tooth after work.

Sounds like associated bones which raises some questions. The horse has been galloping around NJ for about 400 years and a bone exposed by erosion could look really discolored and old. Horses are a herd animal in their natural state like bison. Just one horse is unlikely. Where a horse fossil is found there are almost always many horse fossils to be found. Great quantities of horse fossils are found along the south east coast up to Maryland. I have collected specimens from Florida, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Maryland. Maryland is the far northern limit by my calculation and specimens. I suspect the terrain and lack of open grazing land in NJ was just not attractive to some animals. South Jersey during the post ice age era looked much like it does today pine lands with more lakes and bogs, got good horse country...

Another issue is your specimen looks equus from it's size which is not a Miocene horse. The Miocene horses were usually much smaller. I think equus first arose in the very late Pliocene but most specimens are going to be late Pleistocene or modern horse.

Edited by jpevahouse
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It's a lot easier to ID a horse from it's teeth than a bone like an astraglus. Please post a photo of the tooth you found.

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Here is the tooth that we found in the same area but not in the exact same dig site. I don't want to infer that these are associated fossils, only that they were found in the same general area of a stream. The tooth is fossilized but it's also not 100% complete so a positive ID could be difficult.

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Here is the tooth that we found in the same area but not in the exact same dig site. I don't want to infer that these are associated fossils, only that they were found in the same general area of a stream. The tooth is fossilized but it's also not 100% complete so a positive ID could be difficult.

Gee, exciting. From the size and enamel ridges it appears to be an upper molar of equus. I did comparisons from a few ice age equus molars in my collection. Though the tooth is missing parts of two sides and one important area used for identification I feel reasonably sure it's a late Pleistocene equus molar, first NJ specimen I've been able to document thus far. There's a circular enamel ridge called a "protocone" which is a characteristic of earlier horses of the Pliocene and Miocene eras. That area is missing on your tooth. The equus, basically the modern horse, did not have the isolated protocone. It's an easy distinguishing characteristic between modern and early horses.

I think your find is worthy of the NJ State Museum. You should contact Dr Parris, if for no other reason than to report the find for documentation purposes. Collectors finding fossils which are never reported and thus not subject to study deprive the scientific community of much lost data.

Attached, sample of complete equus molars upper and lower from North Carolina.

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Edited by jpevahouse
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Thank you for looking at this for us! The Missus and I have some time off coming up and I'll try to make an appointment to see Dr. Parris. It would be an honor to meet him and, if helpful, donate to the museum. I have a few other fossilized bones from the same area that are from horse sized or larger animals that might have significance.

Thanks Again,

Steve

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...I feel reasonably sure it's a late Pleistocene equus molar...

I hope it is, but I can't let the question go begging: how do we know it's not a 200 year old tooth?

"There has been an alarming increase in the number of things I know nothing about." - Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

>Paleontology is an evolving science.

>May your wonders never cease!

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It would be far less complicated if these types of teeth were as definitive as sharks teeth. If I had found this horse tooth I would be sure that it was special but my wife found it so I'm open to the possibility of it being from some old plough horse! :D

Edited by SoreBack
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I would agree that the astragalus is Equus.

There isn't enough of that tooth to call it anything other than an Equus molar, in my opinion. It would certainly be cool if it were late Pleistocene, but I would need a lot more evidence to be convinced. Horses can be tricky, there is a lot of confusion in the scientific community regarding them.

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I hope it is, but I can't let the question go begging: how do we know it's not a 200 year old tooth?

I have found cow bones that were darn near completely mineralized from the colonial era. The only give away were the butchering marks and a slight smell when held to a flame. I would try the flame test on the bone again leaving it on there long enough to produce sufficient heat. If it is a fossil the carbon black will wipe off and it shouldn't be damaged. If you smell it, you'll know it isn't 100% fossilized and likely modern. The tooth is another matter that I can't help with.

It's hard to remember why you drained the swamp when your surrounded by alligators.

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The tooth is a tough one but the bones are exceedingly heavy given their size and the burn test definitely indicates true fossil. A few have some of what I think is marcasite showing on them. I'll post a photo or two tomorrow .

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The tooth is a tough one but the bones are exceedingly heavy given their size and the burn test definitely indicates true fossil. A few have some of what I think is marcasite showing on them. I'll post a photo or two tomorrow .

Dr Parris, always willing to advise collectors, is a well respected paleontologist. I think your find has more potential than any other reported NJ horse fossil find which I know of. Dr Parris can be amazing identifying fossil bone. Here you will only get a dozen conflicting, confusing opinions and in the end your head will be spinning. Discussion boards are good for sharing and stimulating discussion but not always so good at getting conclusive identification. Not being able to examine the fossil directly is a major handicap, particularly with later bones which may or may not be fossil. Dr Parris will be able to examine the bone and I'm sure provide an accurate identification.

Edited by jpevahouse
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jpevahouse I couldn't agree more about your assessment of Dr. Parris. He's very approachable and knowledgeable.

I too would show him both fossils. They are certainly interesting and potentially have scientific value, even as a data point.

Looking through the bibliography of "The Mammals of Pennsylvania and New Jersey"

it is apparent that the majority of specimens have been found in caves or sink holes,

such as the Port Kennedy site in Montgomery county Pa. among a few others.

There are a few land found specimens from monmouth and other counties.

Do you think the fact that most of the known material has been found protected in caves

indicates heavy erosion that may of destroyed possible fossil evidence?

I think your effort to document the Cenozoic fauna is of great value.

It's hard to remember why you drained the swamp when your surrounded by alligators.

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I hope it is, but I can't let the question go begging: how do we know it's not a 200 year old tooth?

Something I've noticed from various board discussions is conditions for preservation vary in different areas. For instance one user from Virginia (I think), also a bottle digger, said he never found domestic animal bones in old trash dumps. Here in NJ (also from experience digging old bottles) I find an abundance of domestic animal bones in Victorian trash dumps. Very different experience. I find 100- 200 year old bones all the time with excellent preservation, nothing like mineralization. Also, when an old bone is found it's usually in pretty good condition even when it's very old. The exception is off shore finds get a good beating by the ocean but on land I expect to find bones in good condition. NJ has good dirt.

Edited by jpevahouse
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jpevahouse I couldn't agree more about your assessment of Dr. Parris. He's very approachable and knowledgeable.

I too would show him both fossils. They are certainly interesting and potentially have scientific value, even as a data point.

Looking through the bibliography of "The Mammals of Pennsylvania and New Jersey"

it is apparent that the majority of specimens have been found in caves or sink holes,

such as the Port Kennedy site in Montgomery county Pa. among a few others.

There are a few land found specimens from monmouth and other counties.

Do you think the fact that most of the known material has been found protected in caves

indicates heavy erosion that may of destroyed possible fossil evidence?

I think your effort to document the Cenozoic fauna is of great value.

NJ collectors are lucky to have Dr Parris. He has univerally gained their respect.

I've been concentrating on NJ late Pleistocene fauna, also learning about the geology of the era. What attracts my attention and imagination are the animals which are absent or poorly represented in NJ. I always thought early horse remains could be found in NJ. But finding reliable documented cases has been difficult. I'm aware of some cave finds of post glacial NJ fauna which are not represented by land finds. That's a subject in itself. If a substantial population of horse had been present in post glacial times I believe fossil finds would reflect their population. I don't go from the "they just didn't get preserved theory".

The overall picture which has emerged as I learn more about glacial and post glacial geology suggest the topology didn't attract grazing animals. Most all the animals poorly represented in NJ common in other areas are grazing animals. Most of these animals including mammoth (also poorly represented in NJ) were migratory and migrated here after the ice sheet melted opening up a northern route. Carbon dates seem to support their arrival at the end of the ice sheets after 14,000 years ago.

Animals like mastodon, well represented by fossil finds, were browsers who ate plentiful short pines, bushes and swamp grasses. That explains their presence here. Some animals just came and went migrating through the area looking for food and sometimes left a fossil trace of their presence but that doesn't mean they were native species. I look at them as visitors or maybe tourist.

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