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Vertebrates

Browse our Q&A about birds, eggs, nests, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of the Central Coast and Channel Islands.

Unusual object found on the beach

I found an object on Ledbetter Beach that has me stumped. Because it was on the beach I first assumed that is was of marine origin, but it looks more like a mammal horn. I hope that the attached photos are clear enough for you to identify the object. It has the texture of a horn, and overall is about 90mm in its long dimensions.

David, Santa Barbara - November 16, 2022

Curator Response

Dear David,

You’re right, this is from a land mammal! It’s a hoof, so—like a horn—it is keratin-based. It looks a lot like the dried cow hooves which are commercially available as dog treats. It’s too well-preserved to be very old, so it was probably left behind on the beach or washed down there during a rainy period.

Stay curious,

Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Krista Fahy, Ph.D., and Dibblee Curator of Earth Science Jonathan Hoffman, Ph.D.