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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bone People: Are we just along for the Ride ?

At Incoming Bytes  we're interested in everything  even though alternative energy, politics and elections,  the Arab world's self-destruction  and the recent horrific natural  disasters seem to demand attention  at times.

In spite of all of those tragic and ongoing occurrences,  including the Canadian Federal election,  we still like to THINK and ponder  the unknown,   delight in " the universe",   contemplate  "things we've never seen before"   and examine all things unusual.

So, for the curious, here is something new and different to ponder. It has nothing to do with Japan,   radiation, politicos,   elections,  big oil,  or alternative energy.

It is a simple piece of bone, and it's really old.  You'll see why.  It made me wonder.  Is this totally alien?  A dinosaur bone?   Alien means  just means  'unknown', for the record -- I don't have any intention of pretending  it's   related to E.T.  who wanted to phone home ,  or a bone from an  " IncomingBytusichtyosaur"  .  Maybe  we'll have to invent a name for it, who knows?

Will this be the piece of  bone to reveal that on this earth, are we just along for the ride? 
                                                                                                                                   Some time back in 2006  I  was digging a  hole and discovered an  "unusual"  piece of bone.  It really  is unlike anything I've ever seen.   It was found SEALED in undisturbed,  wet reddish clay, sealed perfectly, at a depth of about two feet in soil that has never been cultivated or disturbed.

Maybe it's been there for centuries.
  As you can see in the photo  it is the same colour as the clay,  it was DRY  but  but has since dried out even more.   In this photo, it is shown at  about  3/4 of life-size, and this photo was taken a couple of days after the clay was washed off.    It lacks symmetry and is unlike anything I've ever seen.

Unidentified Bone found in wet clay  (c)2006 r.a. kukkee 
One of the very interesting things about this artifact is that it displays what looks like  osteoporosis  in some areas.  Osteoporosis  is the loss of calcium and mineral, resulting in a   porous, sponge-like bone,  showing many tiny holes from the surface

Some people suggest that only human beings have osteoporosis.  

Maybe that's a clue, or maybe that concept is just debatable. After all, animal bones have calcium in them too.

The visible  marks  on the bone in this picture were found after the clay was washed off.  The visible hole is not mechanically made, but natural, and  round, as are the  smaller,  peripheral holes. The holes  are  neatly chamfered, as opposed to having sharp edges.

This is what the UNDERSIDE looks like,  it has been sitting on the bookshelf for some time,  see the natural colour now ?
Unidentified bone  underside   c 2011  r.a. kukkee

 This is a side view,   notice the sponge-like appearance of the bone.

This view shows more osteoporosis, and the protruding side.  Where a limb connects, we assume ?  All paleontologists  and bone people are invited to comment.

Here's a shot  of  the edge. 

edge--Unidentified bone c 2011 r.a. kukkee

AND another top view  on the shelf.

Unidentified bone c2011  r.a.kukkee

So, PEOPLE,,,,,,any guesses?  Comments?  Know what it is?  

All I know is that it's a cool bone, and I know it's OLD.  

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


  1. What about a scapula? It's got notches too, but this assumes parts have been worn down.

  2. Thank you for that suggestion, Julie ! One thing I have noted, there are NO wear spots on this bone, and only the single protrusion. Thanks again!

  3. It's from a stegasaurus. That was the first thought that came to me. Wouldn't you be surprised if I'm right? Well, so would I! LOL

  4. wooly is correct, and glory comes close..archosaurus may be a relative..
    my own guess comes closer to the recent past few thousand years, a toddler bear's scapula would have been used in ceremonial rites and shamanistic incantations you may check the local carver's patterns.
    as for the perception of osteoporosis, i surmise that the red clay had leached phosphorus and boron from the calcium bone mass along the supraspinous fossa..

    in other words, it's fun to go down two feet and dig up a mystery bone..

    no predatory markings are evident so it's a human kill for sure. please display on mantel for others to play bone people or send to forensic dept at local univ and kiss it goodbye..as students use it to enchant their friends.

  5. Interesting bone! Thanks for sharing this! Happy Easter!...Daniel

  6. @ Glory, a Stegasaurus, hm....it could be a tiny Stegasaurus, but no, I wouldn't be surprised if you're right,you being so smart! ":)
    @Nadine, this is the conundrum, it can be from anything - and an Archosaurus is a good idea too. A scapula-type object, a bear(?) used in ceremonial rites and shamanistic incantations, that is a curious idea also. I will check out any and all possibilities. I have no reason to doubt, at least at this point, that phosphorous and potassium could leach out of a non-human bone into surrounding clay . The osteoporosis is quite extensive in this artifact. Thanks!

  7. What a refreshing change...:) My first thought was that it is part of a hip bone or maybe the scapula of a very small animal..smooth areas as if once attached to muscles, acting as levers. maybe..this is what was left or part of a carcass that an "all too full" animal buried for later. I love anatomy & physiology and of course archaeology...a dig ..now that's a trip I would enjoy.. looking for the rest of those old bones LOL
    Interesting blog as always Ray :)

    1. Thanks, Olivia! I have no idea what it is, all I know is that when I found it I was totally surprised, like in the first photo, it was totally pink like the clay it was in. As it eventually dried out it lost that colour and returned closer to to 'normal bone colour'. I do hope you keep this post in mind --in case you run into a paleontologist or someone that knows exactly what this bone came from. Nice to see you drop in, Olivia! ":) ~R

  8. Looks like the shoulder bone of an animal. A pig maybe? I can't see any gnaw marks or anything like that, so I'm assuming it either died of natural causes or was killed by a human. Two feet deep in clay, that could be up to 5000 years old in your neck of the woods. Old bones often lose calcium as it is dissolved by water and transferred away.

    1. Hi Mike, that really is the question--I have yet to see anyone that can say for sure what it is. It would be about that size if it was from a hog. The very rough flip side of the bone seems to negate the scapula or shoulder-bone concept, but certainly doesn't preclude it being a shoulder-bone of some weird animal either.
      I also noted that the porosity is only visible in specific areas--I concluded that if the bone lost calcium, because it was so well protected with the clay-- the erosion would have been more uniform on all sides, would it not? The bone was perfectly enveloped in wet clay when discovered. Strange isn't it? If I do find out what it is, I will certainly post the answer!Thanks for commenting. ~R

  9. It is the upper epiphysis of a juvenile mammalian tibia. In laymans terms the upper end of the shin bone. From its size I would suggest cattle.

    1. Actually that or similar a suggestion was made, but the bone was found in a layer of consolidated rock-hard undisturbed clay hardpan over 2' deep that has never been cultivated at any time. (No cattle here) Thanks for your suggestion!


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