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Finger found in local creek just a rock

A rock that looks just like a finger was found recently in a creek just outside Kirksville. (John Garlock/KTVO)

A northeast Missouri woman recently made a freakish find in a creek on her family farm.

Terri from Kirksville asked us to conceal her identity, but she agreed to tell us about her unusual discovery.

It was just an ordinary day as Terri and her mom leisurely looked for arrowheads in a creek on their farm outside Kirksville, but what Terri found was anything but ordinary.

"I just happened to be looking down and thought I saw a piece of petrified wood and went over to pick it up and instead saw what appeared to be a finger," said Terri.

It was a rocklike chunk that looks just like part of a human finger.

Terri and her family have found a lot of arrowheads in the creek over the years, but never have they stumbled across something like this.

"I picked it up, and I showed my mother, and she said, 'Oh my god, Terri, it is something.’"

Something Terri said she didn't feel the need to hold onto herself.

"I kind of handed it off to her, and we put it in her backpack and kept walking," said Terri.

As they sloshed along, the unusual discovery provided an afternoon of laughter for the two women.

"The whole time we kept making jokes about having a finger on her back (laughter)," said Terri.

Once Terri got home, she had more time to look at the fingerlike object more closely.

"It's the same size as my finger, you know, has the detail, the same size as a human finger,” she said. “The fingernail area is the same size, the detail of a finger, a human finger."

Fingers crossed, we took the object to be X-rayed at a local doctor’s office in hopes of being able to see a bone inside. Unfortunately, the film just showed a white blob, no bone, indicating the object is the same density throughout.

"I'm still freaked out,” said Terri. “I don't even like to have it in my possession because it really weirds me out."

We also sent pictures of "the finger" to random anthropology professors around the country to get their expert opinion.

All said it is not a fossilized finger, that it's merely a rock that looks like a finger.

Several also noted that soft tissue does not fossilize.

Read their full comments below:

- “I agree, that rock looks like a finger. However, when finger bones fossilize, they don't look like that. For one, they no longer have nails. What the viewer has found is just an interesting rock. If there were any statues around, I'd suggest checking for missing fingers.”

Libby Cowgill, Ph.D./Associate Professor/University of Missouri, Columbia


- “How fun! But that's not a fossil finger. That's just a really cool shaped rock or something. I could say that with full 100% certainty if I could see it in real life, but based on these pictures, I'm very comfortable saying that's just a funny-shaped rock.”

Dr. Holly Dunsworth/Associate Professor of Anthropology/University of Rhode Island


- “No, I'm confident it is not a fossil finger. My first guess would just be a water worn natural concretion of some sort, but without seeing all sides of it I wouldn't want to go out on a limb...but soft tissue (the skin and muscles) just don't fossilize like that. A geologist might have a better take on what natural process would form it. I'll admit it looks pretty finger like!”

Tom Rocek/Associate Professor/Department of Anthropology/University of Delaware


- “I can assure you and your viewer that this isn't a fossilized human finger, although I can definitely see why she would think it was! Fossilized human remains look quite different than that. Without seeing it in person, I can't say anything more definite about what it actually is, but the two possibilities are that it is simply eroded rock (which is often quite weird!), or perhaps even part of a statue carved to resemble a finger.”

Dr. Jennifer Raff/Assistant Professor/Department of Anthropology/University of Kansas


- “It is a rock. If fossilization occurred, it would involve only the underlying bone (phalanx), not the soft tissue and nail around the bone. It is an interesting rock, but it is not a fossilized finger.”

David Frayer/Professor Emeritus, Biological Anthropology/University of Kansas


- “Thanks for sending the photos of the item found by one of your viewers. It is easy to see why the viewer thought it looked like a finger, but even without seeing it directly I’m confident it is not a fossilized finger. Fossils are skeletal elements where the bone matrix has been replaced by silicates. As such, they have the same form (shape) as the skeletal element. Soft tissue does not fossilize. Moreover, the image you sent suggests the texture of the item is not what we expect to see in truly fossilized material. Although this aspect is more difficult to tell solely from a photograph. Your viewer has a keen eye. It is easy to see why it could be thought similar to a finger, but I don’t think it is more than an interesting stone.”

Dennis H. O’Rourke/Foundation Distinguished Professor/Dept. of Anthropology/University of Kansas


- “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s just a rock that happens to look like a finger.

Might it be a carved stone meant to look like a finger is the other possibility.”

Robert Walker/Associate Professor of Anthropology/University of Missouri-Columbia


- “Although I cannot be absolutely positive, not having personally handled the piece, I can say with fair assurance that it is a stone with the odd appearance of a nail. The rest of the piece has not a single anatomical or other feature that would identify it as from an animal.”

Alan Mann/Professor Emeritus of Anthropology/Princeton University


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