Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Edisto Beach Dig Yields Bovine Bones

Diane and John Renfro discovering bovine bones on May 19
Edisto Beach is well known as a shelling beach, it takes a discerning eye to diagnose whether one if looking at a significant seashell, or just a splinter of something grander. The same geography that makes Edisto Beach hold seashells, also benefits those looking for fossils, clues from the past about the Ice Age that once gripped the Lowcountry. What appears to be a significant discovery of bovine bones on May 19 brought the possibility of Pleistocene remnants into the digital age, setting off a viral conversation on social media about the bones and their significance.

Bovine bones - Cleaned up and drying out
Like so many other vacationers, John Renfro and his wife Diane from Philadelphia have a week of vacation at the beach. Besides riding bikes at Edisto Beach and eating seafood, Renfro also makes time to look for fossils. His passion for digging for fossils is aided by his neighbor Larry Decina, who belongs to the Philadelphia Paleontology Society. The actual bones from May 19 at Edisto Beach are now with Decina, and are on their way to being carbon-tested in order to determine their age.

Large bovine bones
Jawbone is about 5-inches in length
And so now the experts are being called upon to juxtapose the history of the Lowcountry versus the science of fossil identification. “The bones I found are brittle, and fossils aren’t brittle,” said Renfro. “The femur bones are big and heavy and measure 11-inches in length, so the size is right for a bison. The hoof is split, or cloven, so that rules out the possibility of the bones being from a horse. But to my knowledge, no bison remains have been found that aren’t fossilized.”

Local fossil expert Ashby Gale has raised the possibility that these bones could be from a cow. The sea island hurricane of 1893 wiped Edingsville, a King’s Grant community, off the face of the map. Whether from a bison or a cow, this type of discovery resonates with those interested in the history of Edisto.

To read this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blogs with Field Notes and Photos click February 2016 December 2015 - October 2015 - September 2015 - August 2015 - July 2015 - June 2015 - February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011   

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