Today we’ve been moving a lot of Carmel Church bones from the lab into Collections storage, and making identifications as we go. One bone, shown above, was a bit unusual. It’s just a fragment, with a flat articular surface at one end, and a thin flange of bone running along one side.
We spent some time in the lab this morning debating the identification of this bone. It’s pretty clearly not cetacean, fish, or bird. We considered that it might be a metatarsal or metacarpal (foot or hand bone), and I took it out the exhibit floor to compare to a peccary metatarsal from Carmel Church, but it wasn’t a very good match. I also tried a seal metatarsal from Carmel Church, but again it wasn’t very similar. The biggest problem was the thin flange along one side. Eventually I got the idea that this could be the distal end of a sea turtle coracoid (part of the shoulder girdle). The sea turtle Syllomus is quite common at Carmel Church, but we’ve never identified any shoulder elements there, only shell fragments, vertebrae, and humeri. However, we also have several Syllomus specimens from Westmoreland County, and I remembered that one of them included the coracoid. It turns out to be a very close match:
Mystery solved! But just for additional confirmation, I did a Google image search for “Syllomus coracoid” to see if I could get another example. This was the first hit:
This, of course, is the exact same specimen; it’s one of my pictures! Following the link took me to my blog post from August 2, 2012, the day the specimen was discovered at Carmel Church. Here’s what I said at the time:
“I’m not sure about this one, but I think it’s part of the coracoid of the turtle Syllomus. If so, it’s the first turtle coracoid we’ve found at Carmel Church.”
I guess sometimes you should just go with your instincts.