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1482 Views 9 Replies Last post: Mar 1, 2014 7:54 AM by MikeHardman RSS
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Feb 27, 2014 4:49 PM

Strange fossils found!! ID required

Hi all first post but im sure it won't be the last as i seem to find myself in situations like this all the time that acts like magnets for those interested. Any way....I have two fossils in my position one large,one small.Both have been seen by a couple of local experts and the county archaeologist whom are a little mythed,but here goes...

1.The first is the small one,found in the Medway on the foreshore below Upnor castle in Kent. Firstly i will point out before any body questions it IT IS DEFF flint. The strange thing about it is that on both sides it had this very regular rectangular and occasional triangular patternation. (please see pictures). Now i understand that if its composition is flint then it must be very early/old in date but would to know what it is or should i say was. Those that have seen it are in agreance that it cannot be geology to create such patternization. I was thinking maybe trilobite,turtle,crab?????

2.The second and by far the most interesting that causes a stir is the biggest one.It was found in the plough edges in a field in Higham in Kent. It weighs 46kg exactly i know i weighed it after carrying it in my arms for approx 1 mile across dirt tracks one evening (i know im well strong me!).I had seen it lying there for two years before deciding to take it home. As can be seen in the pics its dimensions. It is triangular in shape with a cobbled appearance on both sides.Its geology we believe is that of sandstone although its said to be kentish sarcen stone??? (clarification req'd.)The cobbled patternization is both sides although on what i call the underside is riddled with air holes/burrows. The oval shapes are not regular in size as can be seen and i will add that there does seem to be what looks like fossilized twigs/ruffage amongst it. Now again a few people have looked at this before,a museum curator, an archaoelogist and all agreed check it out with the NHM. So over to you guys. I have endured listening to many tell me its natural geology but there are flaws in that reasoning,i have many tell me its a cluster of dino eggs which would be marvellous but i find this unlikely...my personal theory is which i sell to others is i have a very large pile of fossized Dino poop....herbivorous.I say this as its irregular oval shapes look like many other plant eating animals,the air holes seem to be from burrowing creatures which look to still be present in their holes,its got fossilized ruffage in it...basically speaking its a big pile of poop!

Can bring to the museum if invited to do so.

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      Feb 27, 2014 9:16 PM (in response to russ the knight)
      Re: Strange fossils found!! ID required

      Russ,

       

      Small one.

      Yes, flint. The pattern looks inorganic to me. What it is, is not obvious (bearing in mind that it could be a cast or mould rather than the original structure). I note that there is some veining showing on the broken corner. So, if pushed, I would suggest it could be a piece of flint that has a network of veins of softer mineral crossing it, the relative softness resulting in the creation of linear depressions during weathering.

       

      Large one.

      The only geologially close explanation that I can think of is a particular type of trace fossil, but there are many things wrong with that idea. No, I am almost certain this is man-made. I suspect that the ruffage/holes is straw and that it is a piece of mud wall (strawy on the inside, with a non-strawy layer on the outside). In England, wattle and daub usually had a flat surface, but in Cyprus (where I live), many old houses have walls made by patting handfulls of mud (concrete, more recently) on top of each other, after which, the resulting lumps are refined to make them more smoothly rounded and generally create a pleasing pattern. If made just of mud, one would have to question the durability of such material - quite right. But some muds can be limey, going on concretey, and those would last much better. Concrete/mortar can look extremely like a natural sandstone. (As a postgrad, I used to try to trick students at uni by putting pieces of concrete amongst specimens during tests.)

      I suggest you show your specimen to an archaeologist.

       

       

      Mike

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      Feb 27, 2014 10:16 PM (in response to russ the knight)
      Re: Strange fossils found!! ID required

      Good images russ the knight and very interesting finds.

      It's hard to get used to but when you post several images they go on in reverse order? first one posted will be the last on the list? hope that makes sense.

      The small specimen could be a sea urchin (Echinoid) but i have not seen anything like it before, so - good find.

      The big one, may I say I think it could be the side of a 'mud hut / dwelling / oven / furnace'

      Many years ago they did not have bricks so they made there own with mud and straw, they made a ball of the mix, placed it down then added the next one on top - then the next - then the next etc.

      No wonder it causes a stir.

      Mike is spot on as usuall ! obviously i think it's man made and if it's not recent then it is something special that Archaeologists would like to know were you found it.

       

      Tabfish

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          Feb 28, 2014 7:24 AM (in response to russ the knight)
          Re: Strange fossils found!! ID required

          1. I'm fairly sure it is not an echinoid. I noticed that the larger 'plates' near the bottom of GEDC0025.JPG have a hint of the zig-zag suture that occurs down the middle of a pair of rows of ambulacral plates (compare top/left specimen here), and that also gives the 'rectangles' a hint of being five-sided. But I don't give it credence as such. The rest of the 'plates' are a mix of being too random and too-much at right-angles.

           

          2. I've been a geologist for over fourty years, and I still come across objects that stump me. I see no reason in principle why the same should not apply to other disciplines, such as archaeology. That's partly because, within all disciplines, scholars tend to have specialities, outside of which surprises are inevitable. Within their area of expertise such conundra will be less common but still occur (and all the more fascinating for it). That's because there remain things that are genuinely new to science (and a whole bunch of stuff that is very rare).

          In a way, I think your specimen is causing consternation because it is unusual to both geologists like me and archaeologists, like your county archaeo.

          In my ignorance, I suspect the lumpy side is/was the outside surface, but the other side may not have been the inside surface; it may have been an interior surface, perhaps close to some supporting inner framework, such as the wattle of a wattle-and-daub construction. Your piece is not w&d as such: it is too thick, has the lumpy surface, and shows no signs of the wattle. I mentioned w&d earlier because it is an example of man-made reinforced-fibre (straw) wall construction. Maybe yours is an example of a variant on the technique, for something such as an oven (as Tabfish suggested), bee hive, hen house, etc.

          Maidstone museum's 'fossilized tidal bank' sounds fanciful. It is a shame they don't have a photo of it on their web site. It is by no means unheard-of for museums to mis-identify things. For instance, there's an ironstone concretion in a museum near Lisdoonvarna that was labelled 'turtle carapace' last time I saw it.

          To get a good ID, I suggest:

          - you show it (photos/object) to archaeos at universities

          - somebody makes a microscopic inspection (including thin-section analysis), which should show if the material is natural or man-made, and might show key indicators (such as particles of wood-ash or pottery or micro-invertebrates within straw stems).

           

          Keep us posted!

           

          Mike

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      Mar 1, 2014 7:54 AM (in response to russ the knight)
      Re: Strange fossils found!! ID required

      Russ,

       

      That's a very good candidate - good job!

       

      It would be very interesting to compare your specimen to some of the many mammilated sarsen stones documented (eg. http://www.geoessex.org.uk/thurrock.html). I'd be looking especially at:

      - the particular patterning

      - the holes/ruffage

      - the reverse side

      - the cross-section

      - thin-section microscopic details (minerals, cementation, grain shapes, textures)

      - presence/absence of microfossils

      - density

       

      I note from http://www.farnhamgeosoc.org.uk/archive/oldnewsletters/post2002/FGS-2005-October.pdf:

      - 'a satisfactory explanation as to how this surface texture formed is yet to be agreed'.

      I am not surprised. It is difficult to model because we are guessing about the conditions, and few/no modern examples are known AFAIK (so we can't observe the process in action).

       

      However, it appears to be a phenomenon which occurred over an area, and such areal processes are rarely uniform.To generalise: If there are sufficently significant inhomgeneities, the effects could easily be concentrated at or away from those sites. But in the absence of such inhomogeneities, polygonal-circular phenonema could be quite possible. My thoughts go to the formation of stone polygons in tundra regions (due to freeze-thaw actions), and other patterned ground (this makes interesting reading, perhaps assuming you're a bit of an anorak! - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterned_ground).

       

      Refs:

      - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarsen

       

      Thanks russ - in looking into this with you, I feel I have learned a thing or two.

       

      Mike

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