Fossil Friday – more camel bones

2014-10-03aLast week for Fossil Friday I showed an example of a metapodial of an extinct camel, Camelops hesternus, which was collected about a mile from the museum’s current location. It turns out that the metacarpals weren’t found in isolation. Several other bones were found nearby, including the two large fragments shown above.

These relatively large fragments, like the metapodial from last week, are both camel bones. But we’ve moved up the arm; these are fragments of the humeri (upper arm bones). In each case, only the end near the elbow (the distal end) is preserved. I’ve photographed them from the front (cranial or anterior view), in the same orientation as you would see them in a complete skeleton. That means that the fragment on the left is actually the right humerus, and the larger one on the right is the left humerus. Almost half the left humerus is preserved. Compare it to this much more complete specimen from the WSC collection (seen in lateral view, with the distal end on the left):

2014-10-03b It’s possible that the two humeral fragments and the metapodial from last week belong to the same individual camel, especially since there were additional bones from the front legs associated with these. However, at this point I can’t say with certainty that they come from one animal. I haven’t yet seen the original field notes or photos, so I don’t know if they were found actually articulated with each other or if they were just nearby, but I do know that there were bones from other species found at the same site. It would be worthwhile to measure each camel bone and compare their proportions to known associated bones of Camelops to see if their relative sizes are consistent with one animal, and to check them for indications of whether or not they’re at the same growth stage. These checks won’t prove that they come from one animal, but depending on the results they could prove that they don’t come from one animal.

Finally, another point is worth noticing. The second specimen is only partially prepared, with one side still in the original field jacket. A large number of specimens in the WSC collection have been prepared only enough to make an identification, and still need to be fully cleaned and restored. We have a lot of work to do!

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