Hi Peter,

I think this may be a slime mold rather than eggs. Unfortunately my knowledge of slime molds is limited, I think it could possibly be one of the Lamproderma but I have little expertise in this area, so hopefully someone with a better knowledge could offer their opinion.

Hi Jo,

this is a crab claw rather than a bone!

Hi Gabriel,

This is one of the caudal (tail) vertebrae of a smallish dolphin.

Hi Jasper,

this is the tympanic bulla (earbone) of a large whale.

Hi Cymiri,

decomposition can be incredibly variable based on a wide variety of factors. Survival of bone after burial will be largely determined by physical disturbance, biological agents of deterioration and chemical degradation.

If the yorkie wasn't dug up by foxes or disturbed during gardening, there is still a good chance that the remains could still have been scattered through the soil profile by the action of soil burrowing animals, plant roots and so on.

Then there is the action of fungal hyphae and bacteria to keep in mind. These will extract the protein from the bone, leaving the brittle mineral components. Their activity will be limited by things like temperature, water availability and oxygen availability. In low oxygen soil preservation is usually good.

Soil chemistry will also determine how well the mineral component of the bone survives. If the soil is acidic then it atacks the mineral component of the bone. For small bones this would probably mean fairly rapid loss and for larger bones it would mean damage to the surfaces.

So if there has not been any disturbance, preservation will largely depend on the type of soil you have. If it's waterlogged and low in oxygen, but not too acidic, you may well find some bone.

Platypus juveniles have teeth that are lost and replaced with horny pads in adulthood, but that's the only example I can think of.

(posted in General Biology)

This looks like a dermal scute, possibly one of the dorsal scutes from a large sturgeon

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Greg,

this looks like one of the thoracic vertebrae of a juvenile seal, but I'm afraid I can't tell you which species.

Hard to be sure of the species, but it's one of the Macroglossum Hawkmoths, possibly a Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum

(posted in Mammals)

This looks like a thoracic vertebrae from a dolphin

(posted in Mammals)

This is the lumbar vertebra of a porpoise or dolphin - probably dolphin given the size. I'm afraid I can't identify it to species level and there are several possibilities in the area it was found.

Hi Nikol,

are the vertebrae of a dolphin or porpoise - if it's just the neural spine that's 10cm I expect they're from one of the dolphins.

This is a Skink skeleton, probably a species in the genus Plestiodon or Eumeces

These confused me quite a lot, but I think the mystery may be solved - I think these are the dorsal spines of a spurdog shark.

As it turns out, I think this may actually be the the dorsal spine of a spurdog shark. No wonder it caused so much confusion!

(posted in Mammals)

After a lot of consideration, I think that this may actually be the dorsal fin spine of a spurdog shark. Completely in the wrong area before!

(posted in Mammals)

Dear Joan,

this is the synsacrum of a bird, which is the fused pelvis and lumbar vertebrae.

It's hard to get an idea of the species without having a sense of scale. Do you have a photo with a ruler?

(posted in Fossils)

I'm afraid the photo isn't really clear enough to make a confident identification. At least by me!

In general terms, a dolphin or whale doesn't need to support the weight of its body using its skeleton, since the buoyancy of water will support the weight. That means the vertebrae of entirely marine mammals don't need the struts and supports that help lock vertebrae together that you see in land mammals.

Therefore, dolphin vertebrae tend to look very simple. They have a rounded centrum with an upside-down Y-shaped spinous process on top and two simple transverse processes sticking out on either side.

Looks to me like a plant in the genus Diospyros, but I have no idea about the species I'm afraid.

(posted in Fossils)

I think David may be right about it being horse, but I think this may be a section from the front of the mandible. The horse mandibular symphisis is quite long and robust, so this is how I would expect it to break.

This does have several similarities to a seal cervical vertabra, but I'm afraid I can't recognise the species.

The one on the far right of the image is probably from a Guillemot, or possibly a Razorbill. The other two look more like Shag.

This is an axis vertebra that looks like it's been butchered. I think it's probably from a pig.

Hi Fleur,

It looks to be upside down in these images, but I think you may have found the skull of a fish from the genus Gadus. So a cod or pollock.

OK, this still looks rather like the back of a sheep skull.

It's definitely a fly, looks like a female Calliphora with the ovipositor extended, similar to this one: http://bugguide.net/node/view/866140

There are tens of thousands of species of spider and identifying them can be hard at the best of times if they lack obvious and species specific colour patterns, so I'm not sure anyone would be able to provide a good identification based on the video.

That said, it looks like it might be one of the Wandering Spiders, which are active and aggressive like this one, so I'd treat it with caution!

(posted in Mammals)

Definitely not a squirrel skull, but it is vaguely similar to a squirrel sacrum.

It would be useful to have a couple of other views - from the side and front at least.

That said, it looks quite similar to a sheep skull from the rear, except for the well-developed bony nuchal crest which would have provided attachment for some serious neck muscles. Presumably these indicate a head that's either heavy or deals with a lot of forces - or both.

My best guess would be that this is the back of the skull of a Bighorn Sheep.

(posted in General Biology)

It looks a bit like the pectoral girdle and coracoid bar of a fish - possibly a shark? I'm afraid it's a tricky one to judge from photos because it's so 3-dimensional. What sort of size is it?

(posted in Fossils)

I think you've found the sternum of a Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer), probably a bird that was overwintering in more southern parts of the US if your email address relates to the Amelia River in Florida.

This is a female Scorpion Fly in the genus Panorpa. There are 3 species in the UK, but you really need a microscope to tell them apart properly.

Despite the name, they don't sting and they're not harmful.

Definitely a tooth plate, but it looks rather like that of a Black Drum to me, rather than a ray.

Really hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like it's probably a cranefly based on the body shape and legs. Possibly Nephrotoma crocata. They don't sting, although the female has an ovipositor that is used to lay eggs in soil, so it looks pointy.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Mackenzie,

I think your first thought was actually correct - that looks like an Alligator tooth!

Hi Sandy,

I'm assuming you're in America, as this looks like a Nessus Sphinx Hawkmoth (Amphion floridensis).

(posted in Fossils)

Hi Maureen,

this is the centrum of a vertebra, I think it's probably from a shark.

This is one of the pill millipedes, but without having more information about where it was found and what size it is, plus several detailed photos of the underparts I don't think it can be identified with much more detail than that.

(posted in Fossils)

Looks like a Dolphin vertebra. Can't identify to species I'm afraid.

(posted in Mammals)

Hmm, to be honest I'm still a bit stumped, but the structure seems a bit more similar to a front centre claw of a brown bear than that of a badger (the front claws are longer and less curved). However, that still doesn't seem quite right... the wear facet on the top of the point is odd and makes me want to suggest something that used knuckle-walking or similar locomotion - like a large armadillo or (more unlikely) something like a Shasta ground sloth. How old was this midden?

(posted in Mammals)

It's hard to think of an alternative to a badger claw, but the structure doesn't seem quite right. Mainly because I can see no sign of a junction along the bottom of the curve. This may just be an artefact of the angle of the photographs however.

This puzzles me as it looks like it's rectangular in cross-section, rather than being trangular or arched, and I cannot see any junctions.

Photos from the top, bottom and ends would be very helpful in working out just what this might be...

In which case I expect it is simply a robust male Raccoon that has lost hair and had the remaining hair bleached by post mortem processes. It's not uncommon for this to happen. If you manage to find the specimen again and extract the skull it should become much easier to identify. I never trust the skin and hair colour of a decomposing animal - the only guarantee you have with hair of decayed remains is that it will not look like it did when the animal was alive...

Hi Steve,

The robust canine immediately made me think of a Crab-eating raccoon, although you seem a little far north for one of them.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c … akojad.jpg

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Roxy,

this actually looks more like a sheep or deer vertebra than one from a marine mammal.

(posted in Fossils)

Sorry Theresa,

as David says, it's hard to be sure as it's quite broken up and eroded.

It probably is mammalian, most likely from something domestic, like a pig or young cow.

(posted in Fossils)

Hi Lisa,

this looks like it could be the sixth cervical vertebra of a young cow.

(posted in Mammals)

Hi Bashir,

It does indeed look very much like a cow mandible.

Not necessarily. Cuttlefish camouflage themselves very effectively by changing colour to match their substrate, even when the colour are outside their visual range. I'm unsure of the mechanism for that amazing feat.

Also, the idea of a 'background' for an arboreal chameleon is not simple, as they live in a complex three dimensional habitat where the background will vary depending on where the potential predators hunt. Birds will look down to see a brown or green background, snakes will look up to see a blue/grey background. One colour does not fit all backgrounds for all predators and the chameleon can't be sure where danger will come from, to camoflague itself appropriately at any given moment in time.

I've seen some research to suggest that chameleon colour change for camouflage is predator specific (http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/ … 4/326.full), but I've yet to see any research that conclusively nails down the mechanism that chameleons use to colour match their background - or indeed that this is what they are actually doing rather than passively being the same colour as their usual habitat with their colour change being a response to other stimuli (predators, potential mates, rivals, etc.).

(posted in Mammals)

Look like juvenile porpoise or dolphin caudal vertebrae to me.