The mystery of Bobby’s Feature

There is a very small surface feature at Nuvuk, discovered by one of the bear guards, which is known as Bobby’s feature.  We are working our way through the various surface and near-surface features, cataloging artifacts and doing a rough faunal sort.  Since Bobby’s Feature seems to have a total of one bag of material (surface collection by Bobby) I decided I could catalog it and catalog the faunal material all in one go.

Now, we do not have a very good faunal comparative collection, for reasons too complex to go into here.  We do have donated partial specimens from local hunters, supplemented with surface collected complete bones.  But I have been looking at arctic faunal collections for a very long time, and there was very little in the bag that looked like the kind of small fragments where one heads to the comparative collection or maybe gives up and says “SCRAP”.   I cataloged the maul head and the net weight, and assorted seal long bones and inominates, caribou and dog/wolf teeth (loose), marine mammal rib fragments with some interesting butchering marks.  And then the fun started.  There is a good bit of dog chewing on this stuff (maybe the feature was what was left where a dog had been tied?) and the dog had not been helpful.  There is a fibula shaft that is broken so the obvious landmarks aren’t there, a scapula with all the landmarks chewed off, a strange little mandible that is about as big as a ringed seal, but is shaped all wrong.  The teeth are missing as well.  The shape is a lot like walrus, but it would have to be fetal or neonatal to be that small, and the bone looks too old.  It kind of looks like some pinnipeds which occur further south, but I am not very familiar with them, and need to at least get a look at some examples to see if they are a possibility.

So I tried VZAP.  I really like VZAP, but it often doesn’t work very well from Barrow if you want to look at anything but crania (which of course rarely occur intact in archaeological sites).  Several hours later, still nothing I needed downloaded.  Maybe it will be there by morning…

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