Is This a Natural Claw or Tooth – or Is It Manmade?

by Caitlin.
(County Durham)

Is This a Natural Claw or Tooth - or Is It Manmade? - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

My Grandad bought me this necklace ages ago.

Is This a Natural Claw or Tooth - or Is It Manmade? - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I don’t feel comfortable not knowing if it’s real or not.

Is This a Natural Claw or Tooth - or Is It Manmade?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

The black stuff on the back is sticky, and inside the tooth/claw (I couldn’t get it to focus, sorry) also has black stuff (maybe mud?) inside.

Is This a Natural Claw or Tooth - or Is It Manmade?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

Can you identify this item?

Thank you.

Caitlin

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  • Rena Klingenberg says:

    It looks like it’s hollow inside, which might mean it’s not a natural tooth/claw.

  • Mary Anne says:

    I used to collect and study natural things like this. It is difficult to tell. Claws can have an outer covering that comes undone from the inner part of the bone, can indeed be hollow. Claws do not have tips like that.

    The ridged point in the bottom also looks like a tooth, or tusk but I have never seen any with those vertical white ridges. And teeth are solid, and would not be drilled that way. However it really does looks like a tooth.

    Horns from cattle, goats, etc are hollow, but this is too small.

    What does the material feel like when rapped on a hard surface? Plastic, glass, or ceramic? Where did this necklace originate from?

    You might contact a natural history museum near you where you might bring it in for identification. Or try this link (for starters) https://www.pugetsound.edu/academics/academic-resources/slater-museum/biodiversity-resources/mammals/skulls-and-teeth/

    It’s really cool what you have there. If it’s not real, it still looks very awesome. If it is real, you are honoring the animal’s life by wearing it, as well as remembering your Grandfather.

  • Mary Anne, thank you for your interesting reply on the dilemma of natural/manmade pendant. I appreciate your knowledge, and I’m sure it will help Caitlin with new clues to solve this mystery.

  • Dana says:

    I’m going to say it’s the tip of a horn. Small horned animal. Great looking little thing.

  • Barbara Colberg says:

    You can always give it the hot pin test. Heat a sewing needle and press it to the inside of the tooth or horn if it does not make a mark, or smells like burning hair it is real. If it makes an indentation it is not natural.
    I found a sperm whale tooth in the attic of the home I purchased. Scrimshaw. Gave it the test and turns out it is real. Worth a try anyway. Good luck!

  • It looks like some of the dinosaur teeth out there that I’ve seen. You can check if it’s plastic the same way you would check amber. Heat up a needle and touch it in an inconspicuous spot. If it’s plastic, you’ll smell plastic. A petrified tooth would have no smell.

  • Kelsey Keyes says:

    I would like to second Mary Anne’s suggestion to bring it to a natural history museum, science museum, or a university biology department. Many of these institutions offer a free service to help visitors identify mysterious objects. I used to work for the Science Museum of Minnesota and in the lab at the in the Archaeology Dept. at the University of Minnesota. In both both places we looked at these mystery objects for free and plenty of fun and interesting finds come our way. The Science Museum of Minnesota has actually expanded it into a walk in program that visitors can bring items to an open lab and ask their questions. I wouldn’t be surprised if other museums have started doing the same thing.

  • Wonderful, Kelsey! Probably the best way to find out.

  • Mary Anne says:

    I was going to mention that, but forgot! Thank you! Wow, I would have been thrilled to find a sperm whale tooth! In my collection I have some bison teeth, several mammal skulls, antler sheds, antique elephant ivory beads, and mammoth tusk pieces too. A sperm whale tooth sounds wonderful! Did you make jewelry out of it?

  • Catherine says:

    There was a store here in Berkeley called The Bone Room that sold wonderful pieces of ethically gathered animal parts. They closed and now are exclusively online: boneroom.com if you are interested in acquiring more natural products. Very wonderful pieces.

  • Rita says:

    It’s those ridges that grabbed my interest Caitlin. I’m wondering if it isn’t the inside part of a large shell. Here in Florida I have seen some beautiful jewelry made from shell fragments and have made pieces myself from them. Isn’t nature amazing! Please be sure to come back and let us know when you’ve solved the mystery. Thank you all for sharing on this interesting topic.

  • Barb Colberg says:

    Oh my no! It weighs about 3lbs. and it is about 6-7 inches long. That would be quite a honker of a necklace. LOL!

  • Jean Karpowich says:

    Besides a natural history museum, you could also try a taxidermist. I’m sure they would be very knowledgeable in that area.
    I’m not into taxidermy and the closest experience I have with animal teeth (besides getting bitten by a dog!) is scrimshaw on artificial whale’s tooth back in high school. (a long time ago!)
    Good luck with your search. It’s a beautiful item you have!

  • Jean, great idea to check with a taxidermist.

  • RD says:

    Looks like a horn tip from the pictures; they are hollow. The shape and the white, ridgy texture toward the top and smoother towards base is in keeping with horn growth and the black stickiness is possibly the cauterization residue from the removal.

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