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    chrisnwes's Avatar
    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Aug 26, 2012, 09:11 PM
    How to identify possibly ancient seed found in cave
    I guess I kind of put the question in the title section. I have a seed that was found about a foot deep in a rock shelter. It was found in solid clay. I can't add a picture on this site. The seed is 10mm, dark brown/green with ridges like a watermelon. The inside of the ridges are cream/white. The overall shape is football to oval. Thank you for your time.
    Christine Reynolds
    chrisnwes's Avatar
    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #2

    Aug 26, 2012, 09:12 PM
    I meant to say ridged like a pumpkin, not a watermelon. Sorry
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,828, Reputation: 5427
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    #3

    Aug 26, 2012, 09:26 PM
    Is this a homework question?
    chrisnwes's Avatar
    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    Aug 26, 2012, 09:43 PM
    No, I have been searching the web trying to find a place to identify this seed. My husband is a science teacher.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,828, Reputation: 5427
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    #5

    Aug 26, 2012, 11:05 PM
    Why can't you add a photo? That would help a lot!
    chrisnwes's Avatar
    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    Aug 27, 2012, 12:15 AM
    There is no picture download option on this message board. If you give me an email address, that works for me.
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    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Aug 27, 2012, 12:17 AM
    The only option is on this quick answer and it will only take a URL.
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    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #8

    Aug 27, 2012, 12:19 AM
    This is the advanced reply. The options here are a URL or http. Nothing will download from my computer. Any suggestions?
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    chrisnwes Posts: 9, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Aug 27, 2012, 12:23 AM
    I figured it out. Thank you for your patience. If you need more detailed information, let me know. I can try for a more close up picture, but it wouldn't do it before. Maybe with better lighting. I also have a microscope. I haven't looked at it under the scope yet. I really don't know what details you will need to know. Once again, thank you for your help.

    Christine Reynolds
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #10

    Aug 27, 2012, 03:03 AM
    Looks like a sunflower seed to me...
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,828, Reputation: 5427
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    #11

    Aug 27, 2012, 06:36 AM
    I agree about it looking like a sunflower seed.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=sunf...w=1024&bih=572
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    #12

    Aug 27, 2012, 09:29 AM
    I appreciate your time. The only problem I have with the 'sunflower' answer is that the seed is not flattened in any way. I do realize that it resembles a sunflower seed in color and striping. The seed is not flattened in any way. It is more football shaped, the ridges are smooth, not sharp edged like a sunflower. Is there any way to tell if this is an ancient sunflower seed or a modern one. It would have a hard time getting to the shelter around here. No sunflower fields or anything like that. The seed was found in an Adena shelter deep in the woods. They grew sunflower, squash, goosefoot and another kind of grass that I can't think of. I don't mean to push this, just don't want to toss something that may be an artifact.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,828, Reputation: 5427
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    #13

    Aug 27, 2012, 09:35 AM
    Is there a university in your area? Show the seed to a botanist or scientist (anthropologist?) there, someone familiar with digs and determining the identify and age of artifacts.
    tickle's Avatar
    tickle Posts: 23,801, Reputation: 2674
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    #14

    Aug 28, 2012, 06:33 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Wondergirl View Post
    Is there a university in your area? Show the seed to a botanist or scientist (anthropologist?) there, someone familiar with digs and determining the identify and age of artifacts.
    Paleobontonist would be the correct discipline to identify the seed. From what I see, and pic really doesn't say much, seed appears to be in good shape and could have been carried into the cave by a small animal recently.
    gnahcd's Avatar
    gnahcd Posts: 215, Reputation: 39
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    #15

    Aug 29, 2012, 12:04 AM
    The depth of the sample was apparently the OP's clue that the seed was ancient. Perhaps the seed is petrified.

    As you can imagine, identification of a plant to species from a seed, let alone from an ancient seed, is an esoteric science and the realm of experts.

    Look around. What is growing around where you found the seed? What has grown there historically? Is there a common plant in the area that has the same seed?

    In taxonomy, similar species are grouped into families. "Sunflower" is the common name of the family of plants - the Asteraceae, that is also the common name for the seed snack from that family.

    I have no idea what you might have found, but the seed reminds me of the castor bean seed, which is a Euphorbicaceae family plant.

    But your seed is striped and not mottled and castor bean seeds are larger.

    The USDA has a seed ID website: Family Guide for Fruits and Seeds

    There is a weed seed ID key called LUCID but it wasn't working on my web browser, but just from the pages you can read, you can get an idea of how esoteric the science is - Federal Noxious Weeds Identification Tool

    I don't think your seed is a grass seed, as grass seeds are very distinctive. Grasses are monocots and it appears that your seed is a dicot or a two leaved seedling flowering plant

    Usually the larger state dept's of agriculture, the USDA, or your local natural history museum, or university will have the experts (the PhDs) who can really id your seed. Depts of agriculture verify the purity of seed for sale and the identity of noxious weeds from seed.

    I think the circle of people that would be interested in your seed find is pretty small - those scientists, including anthropologists, who study Adena culture or fossil or heritage plants.

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