Calling all osteologists.
June 30, 2014 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Can you identify what animal this (1, 2, 3) bone is from? It was found washed up on a beach in Rhode Island.

I'm assuming it's a mammal backbone of some kind. (It could also be deer--there are some that live on the beach.) I'm interested because I pick up a lot of stuff on the beach to put into a little nature center there and I also want to know if it's legal for me to have it if it does turn out to be something interesting enough to put in the center.

Bonus question: what would be the best way to sanitize it without having it fall apart?
posted by geegollygosh to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
Yep, definitely vertebrae. Not sure what kind, unfortunately.
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 8:32 AM on June 30, 2014

Just FYI: I can't see any of those without logging in to google, which I don't feel like doing right now. Is it possible to change the privacy settings? (I can't promise I'll have a good answer if I see them, but someone else might.)
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on June 30, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry, thought that they were public. I think they are now.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:45 AM on June 30, 2014

When I try to see those pictures, I get asked to upgrade to Google+.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:04 AM on June 30, 2014

Response by poster: omg google you suck. Okay, I put them on imugr. Here, here and here

apologies for my technological ineptitude.
posted by geegollygosh at 9:16 AM on June 30, 2014

Best answer: I just asked a friend who's an osteologist, although she specializes in human remains. She says: not human, cow, goat, or sheep. Not a "food animal." It looks kind of dog-like.

It's definitely mammalian vertebrae -- at least one thoracic, and the rest may be lumbar, although it's difficult to tell from the photographs.
posted by baby beluga at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2014

Best answer: Those are mammalian vertebrae, but not human. They do look very dog-like to me, which can include land canids like foxes, coyotes, and wolves.

In this pic, it appears you have an assortment of cervical and cranial thoracic vertebrae, mostly cervical. This pic is making me question exactly which of each, because there are features C6 is supposed to have and C5 isn't, but individual animals don't read the anatomy textbook. My best guesstimate is C4, C5, C6, C7, T1, T2. It could be C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, T1, though. If I had them in hand, I could tell you.

Sanitize and prep for display? ::shrug:: I can't tell you from here. Again, I'd have to handle them to judge their fragility and how much grease was left in them/how much grease you want to leave. I also think we have different goals in prep and preservation, so my opinion is pretty worthless. For my work, I don't know why you would want to preserve the rotted and dried connective tissue in this case, because without proper prep, it'd just be asking for pest management issues. The disc and ligament remnants aren't doing anything you couldn't duplicate with Elmer's glue or just stringing them on a loop of cotton string.

Legal? It's going to depend on what it is from and your DNR and local regulations.

There's someone on tumblr who does a significant amount of found bone identification from wild animals, and if AskMe can't get the species from the info you have, they might be able to help you. I work with domestic species and the occasional exotic, so those are what I know best.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 1:06 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

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