We were fossil hunting today on the rocky beach of Port Mulgrave near Whitby when we stumbled upon this item. It looks like lots of shiny fibres coming out of a piece of bone/rock. What could it be?
Ooo - that's a good one!
If the solid part was round or hexagonal in cross-section, I must suspect it to be a fragment of industrial optical fibre. But the solid part seems to be shaped more like the handle of a knife.
I look forward to somebody enlightening us both, fingers crossed!
Meanwhile, it would be useful if you could give us a clue about its density.
Does it feel heavy?
If it feels light, does it float or sink in water?
Does it absorb water, repel it, or seem indifferent to it?
Does it smell?
Does it have a greasy feel?
Does it smoke if you put a lighter or match under it?
It sinks in water. The black part does not seem to absorb water. The fibre part holds water like a paint brush would. Some of the fibres come easily out of the black part and snap if they are pulled. The black part does not feel greasy - it feels like a piece of bone would (only the wrong colour). When I held a lighter under it, it eventually began to smoke and smelled a bit like tar. I'm thinking now that it must be something manmade rather than natural but I'm still intrigued to know what it is or what it has been used for.
The black part goes right into the middle of the white fibres.
Hope this helps someone to identify it.
Thanks for the further info.
My best guess is a remnant of a shaving brush, either synthetic or natural (badger hair)
You have to imagine the wave action has eroded the outer bristles, leaving the less-splayed inner ones.
What do you think?
Mmm that's a definite possibility. Thanks for all your help.
I think you have almost hit the nail on the head Mike - I think it's a piece of sea worn carbon fibre/glass fibre, most probably a piece if broken fishing rod.
I wondered if it might be a bit of baleen, or fashioned from it (there are several baleen whales, down to the minke whale) http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/baleen/physical-characteristics.htm .
I wonder why it might 'de-fibre' from just one end.
And would it smell/smoke when hot? It perhaps depends on how the fibres are held together (fused or cemented)
That's a brilliant idea!
I've never seen baleen other than in pictures, so I don't know if Macca's specimen looks reasonably similar.
I guess we might need a CSI to ID the fibres.
Thanks Mike. I've only seen pictures as well; & while several things point to baleen (like whitby's a whaling port & a New Zealand shaving brush with baleen 'hairs'), & http://www.scran.ac.uk/packs/exhibitions/learning_materials/webs/40/baleen.htm describes the bristles as varying from coarse to very fine (minke); nevertheless the picture & description on that site of a baleen plate don't appear to fit, (eg layers of horny tubes which "emerge at the edge as hairlike bristles").
Wish I had seen this post earlier!
It is a piece of fibre glass (probably a fishing rod) that has been set on fire!
The fibers are what is left after the fire has gone out.
You sound very sure...!
You're not an anti-fishing activist, are you?!
Anyody care to donate a fishing rod, so we can set fire to it?
Actually, I am leaning in your direction (and hence with Bombus', too).
GRP can be fabricated into rods (as well as variously shaped surfaces), and in fact there's a company a bit up the East coast from Whitby that makes such rods - http://www.ecfibreglasssupplies.co.uk/c-534-polyester-fibreglass-rods-white.aspx
And, indeed, the resin could burn, leaving the glass fibres intact.
(nods to oneself in acknowledgement)
OK I think my name is a bit of a givaway!
I have set many rods on fire - Honest!
Fiber glass is usually solid and cabon is hollow.
Tomorow I will post some images of fiberglass and carbon don't have any kevlar as it has not realy caught on in fishing circles.
If you burn the end of an old fishing rod then cut the fibres short they act as an abrasive to clean coins! and also fossils in soft matrix.
Please look up coin cleaning on a mettal detectorists site.
I have just found a way around paying for it.
As promised some images of burnt fiberglass and carbonfiber.
They are both from the tips of course fishing rods, the first image has fibreglass at the top and below carbon etc the bottom image is fiberglass.
Sea fishing rods can be made up of fiberglass or carbon, if fiberglass they are usually solid in construction similar to the piece found at PM, they are cheaper and shorter than if they are made of carbonfiber that is usualy made into a hollow tapered tube.
Fiberglass comes in many colours but is now outdated - were as carbon is usualy dark brown and is woven into a cloth making some fantastic paterns in the finished product, it could be a fishing rod or a F1 car.
Thanks for all your help. It looks very much like the second image so I must concede that it would appear to be a burnt fishing rod. How disappointing - I thought we'd found something very exciting!