Hi there, a pupil in my school recently found this bone whilst exploring a shallow stream in Suffolk, we thought first off that it was an old piece of engineered metal due to its weight and finish, but soon concluded it was bone, but from what? ( it's approx 30 cm long) Hopefully someone can shed some light on it.
This is a metacarpal or metatarsal from an even toed ungulate. Even toed ungulates have cloven hoofs such as sheep, deer and cow. The metacarpal is from the fore limb (front leg) and the metatarsal from the hind (back) limb. There is a useful photograph about half way down this page which allows you to distinguish between the two:-
Once you have determined whether this is from a front or back leg then the length is useful to find the species. There are Muntjac, Roe and Fallow deer limb photographs here:-
the smaller skeletons are on graph paper for scale and the larger ones the name is on graph paper. Of course this bone may be from a sheep or red deer so may not match the species photographed on this site.
Just as an extra query John, the bone looks as if its very old, its very dark and its heavier than it appears it should be, is there a way of putting a rough age to it? How do you differentiate a normal bone from a fossil?
I am no expert as ageing bones although I would agree that this does not look as though it has just died. Just after death the whole of the bone is made of - bone! Over centuries the bone decays and is replaced by mineral, when there is bone and mineral it is a subfossil. Once all the bone has turned to mineral (tens or hundreds of centuries) it is fossil.