This past December we had a member of the community drop off a modern bone they had found in the crawl space under their place of work. We quickly recognized that it was probably a large bird bone, and guessed that it was possibly one of the larger long-legged birds that inhabit the Colorado River corridor. We consulted with some of our paleo colleagues to obtain some technical books and papers that might have pictures of what we were looking for. After several searches we learned that the bone was a lower leg bone (tibiotarsus) of a Great Blue Heron! We even learned something ourselves during this search – these types of birds have a patella, or “knee cap” – something that not all birds have.
Can you tell if this is a left or right tibiotarsus?
We encourage people to bring their rocks and fossils by for us to identify (we do not do appraisals however).
Special thanks to Ashley Kort Morhardt (WitmerLab at Ohio University), Ashley Fragomeni (The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology), Wayne Thompson (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology), Frank Varriale (Johns Hopkins University), and Laura Wilson (University of Colorado at Boulder).