As you may or may not know, cricket umpires traditionally keep six small stones in the pockets of their big white coat. They pass these from the pocket on one side to the other with each ball bowled, to keep track of the six balls of each over.

During a spot of umpiring my father noticed one of the stones was a bit unusual – as per his pictures above. But what is it exactly? Hopefully somebody out there has seen something like this before and can enlighten us. Please add a comment or send a tweet (@UKNatureBlog) if you have an idea. My best guesses, without having seen it in person, are as follows.

  • A stone with a bizarre, ancient inscription or pattern – perhaps of archaeological significance – but probably not. The (fairly) regular pattern looks like it's natural in origin to me.
  • A worn piece of antler, perhaps from the base.
  • Similarly, bone or tooth.
  • Some fossilized thing, perhaps from the sea?

Update: my friendly local archaeologist Claire tells me that it's almost certainly a fossilised sponge – so my last guess above was correct, albeit inspecific!

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