We found this (as shown, we haven't cleaned it) on West beach, West Bay, Dorset the other day. We've had lots of cliff falls lately and sea is very rough so assume it's out of the cliffs. It was washed up, found at low tide, not directly near a cliff. It's very hard, reasonable weight, assume it's fossilised. Any ideas as to ID? First pic shows it still damp, it's now dried to paler colour.
this looks like a recent Pine cone to me - its obviously been in the sea for a while and washing up and down the beach has probably worn the cone scales down to give the smoother appearance here. From the size and asymmetric shape I suspect it's Pinus radiata (Monterey Pine) which is commonly grown along the Dorset coast.
Think it's too hard and heavy to be recent. I will attempt weighing etc. It's rock hard.
also, if it was a fossil, it would have been slightly flattened by the pressure of the rocks above
Thank you Dr Fred, I think you might be right as the item changes as it dries (see my answer to Mike Hardman). I did find it a bit odd it didn't have any rock residue attached. We live and learn & I'll post anything better I find!
I'll check yo see that I am right but it looks like fossilized dung or a fossilized pinecone. I'm sure an expert will coreckt me if I am wrong.
Wow - that's a nice one!
To test if it is recent or a fossil, tell us what it sounds like when you hit it with another stone (gently). If it 'rings' or sounds hard, it is a fossil. If not sure, determine its density by weighing it and calculating its volume by water displacement. Rock should be around 2.5g/cc.
Probably best to widen the search to the Cycadophytes to start with, to include Cycad relatives such as Bennettitales. I would not rule out conifers
If you don't get an answer here, I have a feeling Neville Hollingworth might be able to cast a useful opinion
Thank you..I did get quite worried at query also from Lapworth on Twitter as to whether I was sure it wasn't modern..I collect a lot of driftwood so assumed that if it was just a modern pine cone, it would be either uninjured (i.e. a normal pine cone, if wet, which I'd obviously recognise as such) or have become light after a long time in the water, if it didn't just rot.
But I've no idea about what would happen to a modern cycads floating in salt water for a while as I'm less familiar with these. Unsure how to test it, I tapped it and it makes a noise like metallic sort of stone, if that sounds understandable, won't chip or scrape with my nail & would be hell to drill (not tested, as I don't want to hurt it, I just know from drilling experience) and final test lightly tapped my head with it - it would hurt a lot if it hit you, even slightly. Thank you for the more scientific methods offered, and I will now go and weigh it and check the water displacement.
I'm becoming more doubtful about it..it weighs 133g BUT the attributes I describe (including sound when hit it with a stone) could also apply to a very solid hardwood object - I am also concerned that it appears to be continuing to dry out, which, if it were solid rock, wouldn't be the case. I suspect the weight will go down with continued drying. I'm just an amateur about what different sort of cones would do when subjected to sea water..ones I'd find in forests would be much less dense and would rot easily. But I'm now suspicious this is not a fossil sadly..its weight might well be due to water and has become tough and durable. I think Dr Fred might be right. I am very grateful for the input, even if this is a bit disappointing, and I find fossils regularly so will find this site very informative. (I promise they are fossils such as ammonites, not recent barnacles!)
Ah - too good to be true
Never mind; all part of the learning process.