Tooth found in Texas Well

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    Bruce MacFadden


    Dear Veronica–Thank you for your inquiry. The photos that you sent are definitive in my opinion. It is definitely a fossil horse tooth, likely Equus. I am copying Eric Scott above, who is a world’s authority on fossil Equus. I want him to weigh in on what he thinks your fossil horse is.

    From: Veronica Arias <[email protected]>
    Sent: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:32 PM
    To: MacFadden,Bruce J
    Subject: Identification of tooth

    Dr. McFadden,

    My name is Dr. Veronica Arias, and I am the Curator of Archeology at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. I am trying to obtain better identification on a fossilized tooth found recently in a well in the Texas Panhandle at a depth of 401 ft. I have attached some photos of the specimen here. The specimen is currently being considered for accession into our collections. From my untrained eye as an archaeologist, it would appear to be a horse tooth—though it is different from other Pliocene era teeth in our collections. It’s notably thinner (0.38mm) and flatter. I am contacting you, as I know that you have some familiarity with our paleontological collections and knew my predecessor, Dr. Jeff Indeck. I hope you won’t mind that I’ve contacted you for your opinion—I wasn’t sure who else to contact. I thank you for your time.



    Veronica M. Arias, Ph.D.
    Curator of Archeology
    Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
    P.O. Box 60967

    Canyon, Texas 79016

    806.651.5231 (direct) | 806.641.2244 (main)

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    Eric Scott

    Hi, Veronica and Bruce–

    Thanks for the e-mail! The tooth looks to be a lower right cheek tooth. It’s definitely not Equus, and to my eye doesn’t look right for Dinohippus, Pliohippus, or even Astrohippus. That stylid on the anterior end looks interesting. If you take a look at the appended pdf, specifically Figure 4, you’ll see lower cheek teeth of Calippus that appear to be similar, and are approximately the same size. That’s not to say that you should commit to your tooth being Calippus – I’m no expert on horses of this geologic age, and the fossils described in the appended paper are Miocene rather than Pliocene. But you can be confident that your tooth is very definitely a fossil, and likely worth accessioning into your collections. I hope this helps!


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    Veronica Arias

    Thank you, Eric and Bruce. That is very helpful information. I appreciate it.


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