TracyCoxon's picture

Is this a claw or a horn?

Observed: 15th July 2010 By: TracyCoxon
Side view of the "horn";  (That's a 5p piece)
The base of the "horn"; (That's a 5p piece)

It is a "bone-like" "claw"(?) that my daughter found on a pebble beach on Mull, Scotland. It is white at the base and then it becomes grey/blue about a third of the way up, continuing towards the tip.
The base has a very distinctive shape as shown in the photo.
The dimensions are - The Base - 30mm x 13mm (18mm at projections); The Height 59mm.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Syrphus's picture

At first sight I thought it

At first sight I thought it might be the bony core of a cow or sheep horn, but looking at the pictures more closely (especially the RH one of the rectangular base) I tend to the idea that this is not organic at all. There is a suspiciously round imprint towards the bottom of the piece, and the flanges and angles are a bit too artificial-looking.

Before going further I would want to have a look at the thing in my hands to determine whether it is in fact bone. What I see does not suggest the texture of sea-eroded bone.



recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on

TracyCoxon's picture

We are very sure that it is organic

Thanks for your reply Murdo. We are sure that it is organic, and the weight feels right for bone. The surface is pitted like bone as you can see from the photograph on the left. Also if you look towards the top third there are a series of small "holes" that look as if they were formed as the "horn" grew. Also there are distinct layers that have been exposed (towards the bottom left of the "horn" as you can see in the same photo)
We agree that the base does appear to have a very regular shape, however the interior also appears consistent with an organically formed item.
Would some more photos help?

Syrphus's picture

I don't feel that more

I don't feel that more pictures would help me, Tracy. I am a natural sceptic, and I am finding it difficult to make sense of the object.

If you are sufficiently puzzled, you could post it to me - contact me on to get details. Otherwise, we must just hope that someone else has a flash of inspiration.

Like the one I have just had. Could it be a crab claw? That would explain why it does not look like bone to me.



recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on

rimo's picture

My first thought would be

My first thought would be Edible crab claw - the colour fits, but I too am slightly concerned by just how rectangular the base is in the second photo

Record your ladybird sightings!

TracyCoxon's picture

Progress :)

Thanks for your contributions Murdo and Rimo. I feel we have ben pointed in the right dierction....the crab claw hunch has proved fruitful. We have looked at many images on-line and found a photograph that shows a simiar projection on the side of the claw where it articulates against the bottom part.
Now we need to find out which crustacean it belonged to....the claw is smooth on the inner edge although it looks like there are flattened regions that are very sightly raised from the surface.
Thanks again

bobthebirder's picture

crab claw

I frequently find these washed up on the south coast - and of course still attached to the live animals! In life the claw is much darker, but the shape really is very distinctive - and the large ones are always rectangular at the base in my experience.

Bob Ford

TracyCoxon's picture


Brilliant - we feel a lot better knowing what it is - my daughter was dissapointed that it wasn't from a T-rex, but is now a lot more interested in crabs.