Soapstone and Antler Origins
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock having a
talc base ("metamorphic" means changing from one type
of stone to another through time and pressure). It occurs as
a secondary mineral formed as a result of the alteration of olivine,
pyroxene,and amphibole. The purest talc is used commercially
to make talcum powder. Soapstone can be distinguished by its'
ease of carving, soapy feel, and vibrant colour, which is obtained
by the associated minerals leaching into the talc.
Steatite is a massive and compact rock containing more
than 90 % talc. The remainder consists of silicates (chlorite)
and/or magnesium carbonates.
Soapstone is a massive, soft, impure talc rock that
contains variable proportions of magnesian carbonates (dolomite
and/or magnesite), serpentine, chlorite, tremolite and magnetite.
Pyrophyllite is a hydrated aluminum silicate. In contrast
to talc, pyrophyllite is the product of hydrothermal alteration
of felsic igneous rocks (rhyolite, dacite) and schists derived
from metamorphosed volcanic ash. Nonetheless, its physical properties
are identical to those of talc, and it therefore provides an
ideal substitute for talc in a number of industrial applications.
Breunerite is ferroan (iron-rich) magnesite.
In 1812 the Mohs scale of mineral hardness was devised by the German mineralogist
Frederich Mohs (1773-1839), who selected the ten minerals because they were common or
readily available. The scale is not a linear scale, but somewhat arbitrary.
Antlers are unique to cervids and found mostly on males: only caribou and reindeer have antlers on the females, and these are normally smaller than those of the males.
Each antler grows from an attachment point on the skull called a pedicle. While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone.
In most arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth and shedding is
seasonal and controlled by the length of daylight. In tropical species,
antlers may be shed at any time of year.
Antlers function as weapons in combats between males, which sometimes
cause serious wounds, and as dominance and sexual displays.
antlers appear to act as large hearing aids. Moose with antlers have
far more sensitive hearing than moose without, and a study of trophy
antlers with an artificial ear confirmed that the antler behaves like a
Gathering shed antlers or "sheds" attracts dedicated practitioners who refer to it colloquially as shed hunting, bone picking or sometimes clinting. In Canada shed hunting usually occurs after the snow melts. Sheds often
accumulate in one area, and these areas are often kept secret by those
who hunt there.
Shed antlers have been used by craftspeople since ancient times to make tools, weapons, ornaments, and toys.
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn (keratin and other proteins) surrounding a core of living bone.
Horns usually have a curved or spiral
shape, often with ridges or fluting. In many species only males have
horns. Horns start to grow soon after birth, and continue to grow
throughout the life of the animal (except in pronghorns, which shed the
outer layer annually, but retain the bony core).
Animals have a variety of uses for horns and antlers, including
defending themselves from predators and fighting members of their own
species for territory, dominance or mating priority.