This is definitely mammalian, but rather than something marine, it looks more like a butchered cow lumbar vertebra based on the clean cut marks. I think someone may have had a bbq!

Hi John,

this is definitely fish and judging by the size a big one! Possibly tuna, although the morphology doesn't look quite right from the comparative images I've seen.

Dear Mark,

the loss of the processes makes it hard to tell from a photo. You may have a better chance of getting an identification if you can take the specimen to a local museum.

Sorry about that!

Hi William,

it looks a bit like the auditory bulla from a seal skull, but I'll need to check against some specimens.

(posted in Fossils)

Hi Brenda,

superficially it resembles a black bear claw, but without a scale bar or a more detailed image of the structure it's very difficult to tell.

Hi Douglas,

this is a Skate skull - nicely preserved! I'm afraid I can't tell you the species as I'm not familiar enough with the variation in the group, but it looks like one of the ones in the genus Raja.

(posted in Fossils)

It's quite broad across the premaxilla - could be cow - the upper surface would give it away as deer have gaps below the eyes for scent glands, which are missing on cows.

Hi Alexandra,

These look like cat vertebrae.

Hi Phillip,

this looks to me more like the axis, or second cervical, vertebra. I think it may be from a large male Sealion or possibly a female Elephant seal, but I don't have the necessary comparative material to check.

Hi Charlss,

It's a little hard to be sure, but this looks to me like the neurocranium of a Tuna.

Hi Gage,

This is not a skull, it's the synsacrum of a bird. It's a little hard to identify the species from the photos and without knowing a bit more about where you found it, but it looks like it could be from a chicken.

(posted in General Biology)

Hi Maggie,

this is a fish fin spine with hyperostosis, or swelling of the bone.

Hi Cody,

getting a species identification from one photo of a whale vertebra is pretty difficult, especially without having collection locality information to narrow down the most likely species. As you can imagine, there are few places that have every vertebra from every whale species available to check against! It would be awesome if such a resource was available online.

Sorry I can't be of more help!

Hi Nelson,

I think that these are squid egg sacs.

Hi Srikanth,

these look like toothplates of fish. Perhaps a type of ray or wrasse.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Jim,

this looks like one of the cervical vertebrae of a large marine turtle.

(posted in Fossils)

Hi Alison,

it's a little hard to make out much detail in the photo, so it's very hard to make a confident identification. The overall shape is similar to something like the canine of a young dog, but it's hard to tell what the cross-sectional shape is and I can't really tell if the damage at the tip is wear or breakage. If the tooth is more triangular in cross section and it's wear at the tip, then it's probably from a pig.

(posted in Fossils)

Hi Brenda,

this is a calcaneus and the morphology is most similar to a deer, however the large size and apparent partial diagenesis make me think that it is probably quite old and may have come from an American Elk.

Tricky to be sure as it's been quite damaged by wave action, but I think this is a cow atlas vertebrae.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Lynda,

it's hard to be sure without a scale bar and images from standard angles, but the apparent lack of teeth in the upper jaw and overall shape makes me think it's from a Risso's Dolphin. The rostrum looks like it may be a little long, but that could be due to camera angles.

(posted in Mammals)

I think this is a damaged vertebra from a large animal like a cow or horse, but I'm afraid the image isn't really good enough to be sure

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Mike,

I'm an anatomists who studies animal bones - this bone is the fused scapula, clavicle and coracoid of a turtle. I'm afraid I'm not sure which species.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Helen,

these are not from a mammal, they look like cervical vertebrae from a large fish, like a Tuna.

Hi Matt,

this is the sternum of an Anseriform. The overall morphology looks similar to that of a Mallard Duck.

Hi Ed,

apologies for not replying sooner - I only just spotted this! I did write a blogpost about this topic last year: http://paoloviscardi.com/2014/09/28/spi … b-of-lies/

I agree with Stuart 100%, there is very little evidence from any reports of 'spider bites' that I've seen in the press that indicate a spider was involved at all. Usually people have simply let a small injury get infected and jumped to conclusions.

I'd be more concerned about the dangers of crossing the road or getting on a train!

(posted in Fossils)

This may be a coprolite, or fossil dung. There are sites in Cresswell, especially around Mother Grundy's Parlour, that are well known for their hyena corolites.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Karon,

it would be useful to see this from the other side. It looks like it could be a section of horn core, or a piece of turtle bone from the edge of the carapace or plastron.

(posted in Fossils)

I agree with Mike, although I think this may be the result of an industrial process rather than a geological one - it looks like slag or melted metal.

(posted in General Biology)

Dave is right about it being from the base of one of the fins - it's a hyperossified pterygiophore. I'm afraid I don't know which species it's from though.

(posted in Mammals)

David is right, but the short answer is probably somewhere around 210 in an adult bear

(posted in General Biology)

Hi Glen,

I think this is the sternum of a Cormorant or Shag - the m-shape at the bottom is quite distinctive for this group of birds.

Hi Josh,

this looks like the hyperossified pterygiophore (or 'tilly bone'), possibly from a Carp.

The articular surface of the humerus fragment suggests this is from a cow.

Hi Blake, this is a section of the hypoplastron (the bone of the underside of the shell) of a marine turtle.

Hi Joyce,

a scale bar would be helpful, but the overall shape makes me think it's from a bird.

I think that this is probably the shed carapace of a shimp-like crustacean.

(posted in Fossils)

Hi Claudio,

I don't think this is cetacean bone, as that is normally very dense. To me this looks more like a section of the skull from around what would have been the horn core of a polled cow. I think that the part that looks like an articular surface is actually the healed region following the removal of the horn.

This is the cocoon of an insect - possibly a moth, but I'm afraid I'm not sure.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Jayson,

this is part of the mandible of a Macropod marsupial. I think it's probably from an Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus.

Hi Simon,

this is Myrichthys ocellatus the Gold-spotted Eel.

Hi Guy,

This is a piece of limestone containing a fossil coral. Nice find!

Hi Jemima,

I think that you may be right - it does look like a cuttlefish egg. Great find!

Cuttlefish are quite difficult to rear, so you'd be best off putting back near where you found it - but I realsie it's probably a bit late for that now! Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

(posted in General Biology)

Hi Jorge,

these look like hyperossified fish spines. I'm afraid I can't identify them to species as the hyperossification obscures many of the features.

Hi Stafanos, there are a lot of questions there, so it's hard to get started! The openings may have been covered by a membrane, similar to that seen in the fontanelles of a young baby's skull. If the benefits of losing the bone in the area outweigh the costs of having less protection, then the bone will be lost - as we see.

As for the eye, it is supported by connective tissues and evidently there is no problem with damage from the jaw muscles behind, since we'd see a lot of examples if it was a problem!

Not sure if that fully answers the question, but the main take-home message is that non-bony connective tissues perform a variety of important functions that shouldn't be forgotten!

Hi Jagger,

I think that this is a Great Plains narrow-mouthed toad Gastrophryne olivacea, although it could be the Eastern narrow-mouthed toad Gastrophryne carolinensis. It's hard to be 100% sure from a photo.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Jean, this does look like a canid of some sort, given the area you live in and the behaviour you describe I think this is a Grey Fox - they are one of the few members of the dog family that have adaptations for tree climbing.

(posted in Mammals)

It would  be useful to get the image from the other side, with the ends clearly visible.

Hi Deniz,

males tend to become more robust as they get older, so although the skull stops growing from the edges of the various plates that make it up, it can become thicker and more rugged in places (especially above the eyes). Muscle and some fat is also present under the skin of parts of the skull, so this may also increase head size a little.

Of course, this all depends on lifestyle - particularly diet and the amount of chewing a person does, as muscle and bone development are related to use.

Hi Rj,

these look like the larvae of a dermestid beetle - probably one of the Carpet Beetles, but the detail isn't easy to see as the photos are a bit on the small side, so I can't be too specific which kind. If they're hairy all over then they're probably Varied Carpet Beetle, if they have a tuft of hairs at one end then they could be Two Spot Carpet Beetles, Black Carpet Beetle or Vodka Beetle - my money would be on the last one since you say they're lighter underneath.

They feed on the keratin that makes up hair and feathers, so if you have a wool carpet I expect they're eating that, but dust from pet and human skin cells and hair that have been shed will do them fine.

The best way to deal with them is to hoover regularly, making a special effort to move furniture that they might be hiding under. You might also want to pop any woolen blankets etc. in the freezer for a full week, take them out for a couple of days, then freeze them again for another week. That kills the small larvae and will cause the eggs to hatch so you kill the new larvae on the second freeze.

If you don't have any pets (especially fish!) you might want to consider a pest spray to use in the places that you find them most, but do be careful when using pesticides as the beetles won't cause you any real harm, but the pesticide might if it's not used properly! Constrain by Historyonics is what we use in museums, but there will be other brands out there for domestic use.

(posted in General Biology)

Hi Kayleigh,

It's definitely fish. I wish I could give you a species identification, but I'm afraid I'm drawing a blank at the moment. The rounded and flat rostral tip suggests it may be something like a Smallmouth Yellowfish.