Fossil Friday – proboscidean ulna


Over the last few weeks we’ve started pulling a lot of mastodon material from the collections (more on that in a future post). Some of the bones that are turning up are pretty interesting.

The large bone fragment shown above is a small part of the proximal end of the right ulna, one of the bones in the forearm. It’s shown above in lateral view, and below is looking at the proximal end (part of the articular surface for the elbow):


This fragment is labeled at mastodon, but comparing it to the photos in Olsen (1972) it seems to be closer to a mammoth (below). We’ll have to examine it more closely and see if there’s any associated material to determine for sure which taxon it belongs to

Image 122

What really caught my attention were details on the edges of the articular surface and a few other places on the bone:




As we’re finding with many of the large bones from Diamond Valley Lake, this bone is covered with bite marks from scavengers, in the form of notches cut into the edges of the bone. These are relatively large grooves, consistent in size with something like a coyote or dire wolf, but there are lots of possibilities.


Olsen, S. J., 1972. Osteology for the Archaeologist No 3: The American mastodon and Wooly mammoth. Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University 58:1-43.


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