I was wondering whether anyone knows how to identify what animal the following bone belongs to. I assume it a femur, but it seems rather short and squat. The following photos show two views of this bone and I've placed a 15cm ruler in the frame with the bone.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can't be sure about the species, but I agree with @kmm's answer that this is a humerus. The condyles (i.e., the "trochlea" and "capitulum" in the case of the humerus) are clear giveaways on the left side of the picture. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ www.boneid.net provides a great searchable database of identified bones $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Did you ever figure out what animal that belonged to? We found the exact same bone (just the other side) in the Adirondacks of upstate NY $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 21:22

1 Answer 1


My guess is that it's a relatively young cow humerus. The strongly grooved trochleas are more characteristic of a humerus than a femur, which usually just has two condyles. The deep pit is where the olecranon process (your bony elbow) goes. The proximal end is missing, which indicates that the growth plate was not fused, suggesting juvenile.

And I guess cow because cows are very common and have robust bones compared to other artiodactyls.

Here's an image pulled from the web:

Cow humerus

  • $\begingroup$ It is not necessarily young, it looks like it has been out in the weather a while, the end could have been gnawed or weathered. Just based on size and the shape of the condyle it is either bison or cattle, and cattle is far more likely. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 23:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @John Young means the animal was of earlier than full-grown age when it died (based on the size), has nothing to do with how long it's been outside. Limb bones of cattle are sold for people to give their dogs, by the way. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause based on size I could see it, although cattle can vary quite a bit by breed no it is not a great metric to go by. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure why (or how) the bone of a cow/buffalo would get where I found it. There are certainly no cattle that graze any where near there. Also, there are no gnaw marks on the bone either, so it doesn't seem like the sort of thing that had been given to a dog. Could it be something more likely to live in the area like a wolverine or bear? Though, still the size just doesn't seem right for those suggestions. $\endgroup$
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ There are cows everywhere in the US, and they escape and get everywhere else. There is no state in the US where you cannot find cattle. And no, it does not look anything like a bear or wolverine bone. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 23:10

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