What was a petrified animal doing in this tree?
July 30, 2016 8:31 PM   Subscribe

My cousin's friend recently discovered a small, petrified animal embedded in a tree. He chopped down this tree near Marquette, Michigan, and was cutting firewood when he made this discovery. He describes the animal as about three inches long, and rock hard. Though maybe not visible in the photo, he believes that it may have hind legs. What might this animal have been, and how might it have gotten embedded in a tree?

Because I'm at a couple levels of remove for the discoverer of this find, I probably can't provide much more information about this specimen.
posted by basil to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like a fish to me.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:37 PM on July 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

A raccoon brought leftovers home but forgot about it? (or other critter)
posted by ReluctantViking at 8:51 PM on July 30, 2016

The raccoon hypothesis seems very plausible.
posted by sanka at 9:01 PM on July 30, 2016

a wood duckling?
adding for clarity: the nesting young of a wood duck or other bird that builds homes in treeholes.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2016

I think there's a good chance that it's pareidolia. Some sort of fungus or other weird tree growth that just happens to look a lot like a fish.
posted by alexei at 9:58 PM on July 30, 2016 [21 favorites]

there's a good chance that it's pareidolia
I came in here thinking "What's that word I can't remember?". That's the puppy.
(And my opinion after looking at the pics.)
posted by quinndexter at 3:32 AM on July 31, 2016

Having just watched a snapping turtle wander across my yard in MI, it has some similarities to that too.
posted by cecic at 6:18 AM on July 31, 2016

Looks like a burl to me. As far as weird stuff found in trees upon felling, animals and cannon balls are not super uncommon in my crowd.
posted by release the hardwoods! at 7:54 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not to put too fine a point on it: petrified material is created when organic matter is buried in mud and, over time, replaced by silt. The structure preserved, but the organic matter is no longer present.

You might discover what this object is by excising it from the wood, then cutting it open. I would be curious to see if it turned out to be an animal whose substance somehow has been replaced with tree sap, or more likely (like a bug in amber), a critter preserved by the tree. In this case the critter's organic material will still be present.

Or else it's a burl or a fungus.
posted by mule98J at 11:10 AM on July 31, 2016

Cover up the "eye" (which itself looks very mushroomy) and my brain stops seeing it as very animal-like at all.
posted by nobody at 6:11 PM on August 1, 2016

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