klo; Rus- коготб &
A. Claws. Simulants --
"Realistic Wolf Claws ... made using casts from real claws using
plastic resin and then hand painted." (© photo by Chichester, Inc., www.chichesterinc.com)
B. Talons. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758))
extended. Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (National Aeronautics and Space
Administration photo Number KSC-04PD-1248)
talons consist of
tissues that have been characterized variously as fibrous composite
keratin and keratotic biopolymers. Each typically comprises a
layered plate-like structure. Only the claws of vertebrates are
included in this entry -- i.e.,
the claws of animals such as the arthropods are not
Colors - nearly colorless,
white, off-white, black, gray, brownish, tan, bluish, yellow
(especially talons), amber, ...
H. ~2½ << an example of
plate-like keratin-rich material.
S.G. ~1.29 << an example of
plate-like keratin-rich material.
Light transmission -
transparent to semitranslucent
Luster - pearly to vitreous
Breakage - irregular
Miscellaneous - Claws and talons tend
to curve downward when on the animal.
OTHER NAMES: None, so far as I
know, is used to designate any of these materials after they have been
fashioned into jewelry or decorative objects. But, it is
noteworthy that talons are
frequently referred to as claws both orally
and in publications (including those on the internet).
Jewelry - Necklaces
are especially common: Those featuring claws
or talons of a single species, those with claws or talons of two or
more species, and
that consist largely of other materials but have only one or a few claws or
as accents are marketed.
Relatively recently, body piercing jewelry featuring claws and talons
has become rather common. Individual bear claws used as pendants
and several claws used as necklaces are apparently used in two
ways; 1. to tell others that the person wearing it or them has
"bagged" a bear and 2.
strictly as ornamental jewelry (see C, below).
Decorations - Examples are those
from belts, clothing and pouches; they commonly include
claws, dew claws or both.
C. Claws. Bear
claw necklace (length ~70 cm) with six American black bear (Ursus americanus Pallas, 1780)
nuggets and 12
silver beads. (© photo by
Barbara Shiningstar, from
Talismans - These have found
widespread use by hunters, who have carried such charms fashioned from
claws or talons of the animal or bird they are hunting.
OCCURRENCES & LOCALITIES: Wherever
the species from which they are taken lives (either in the wild or
REMARKS: Claw is
from Old English (clawu) via
Middle English (clawe). Talon is from Latin tālus (ankle) via Old French talon (heel) and Middle English taloun. Current application of
these three terms is not consistent -- e.g., birds' talons are sometimes
the animals whose claws or talons have been used in jewelry
and/or decorative items are the following: Claws
black and grizzly bears,
beavers, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, deer, foxes, house
leopards, lions, lynx,
porcupines, wolverines, and wolves; Talons - chiefly raptors,
eagles, but also, for example, emus and several other birds, the talons
of which are sometimes referred to as claws.
In addition, dewclaws
(i.e., claws on vestigial
digits that do not reach ground) of,
for example, bison, deer and elk have also been used.
Claws of animals
have been worn or carried by members of diverse cultures.
include the following: 1. A 6th century(!?) animal claw,
worn as part of an Anglo-Saxon necklace, found near Glen Parva,
Leicestershire (Smith, 1907, p.230); 2. A
"Talon of an Eagle, bored for suspension," found in one of the graves
at an Anglo-Saxon cemetery north of Alfriston, Sussex (Griffith &
Salzmann, 1914, p.25); 3. Bear claws worn by Vikings, apparently
as a sign of their strength in battle; [and] 3. A "Dakota
(Sioux) necklace of Venetian beads, fossil crinoid stems, and
[Grizzly] bear claws [so-to-speak emphatic 'beads,' dated] c.1850,"
shown by Dubin (1987, p.265). By the way, the Leicestershire claw
and the Sussex talon are interpreted to
support the widely accepted hypothesis that
"Keratinous claws of birds or animals may have been more common as
amulets than the surviving tentative indications might suggest."
(MacGregor, 1985, p. 110). More recently, Callaway (2015) has
published a short paper, including a photograph, that supports the
conclusion that some 130,000 years ago, Neanderthals in present
day Croatia used eagle tallons as jewellery (sic) -- i.e., "the talons
of white-tailed eagles found ...[at the site] show cut marks and
patterns of wear that suggest the claws were donned as personal
claws: Sweet rolls with
the general shape of bear claws; Maine Bear Paws, a
confection, made in honor of the University of Maine's Black
Bears; molded plastic "bear paws" (with six "claws"), used in
pairs to handle hot meat, etc.;
well known Bear Paw
pattern used for patchwork quilts and pillows; etc.; etc.
excuse this last “aside”: I just couldn’t resist including
the following "clause about claws," which was related to me by
a wordsmith friend: “His Christmas eve chores done, Santa’s
their annual New Years celebration ‘Claws for Claus,’ the menu of which
featured lobsters and 'bear claw sweetrolls.'”
replicas may be better classed as Simulants, and visa versa. The
choices made here are based on my observations, granted rather limited.
Bone - "A
piece of bone, cut into the form of a talon and bored for suspension
... with a broken ring still in the hole" was found in one of the
graves at an Anglo-Saxon cemetery north of Alfriston, Sussex (Griffith
& Salzmann,1914, p.25). - [If bone simulants for claws and talons
were fashioned and marketed today -- I have seen none reported -- close
observation should suffice to distinguish them from bone.].
- Plastic imitation bear claws, eagle talons, etc. are
marketed widely. - [Close
observation usually suffices.].
of several animals have been replicated by making casts in molds
claws, and, in some cases, the casts have been dyed or painted to make
nearly resemble natural claws (Fig. A). - [Close
observation usually suffices.].
introductory statement under SIMULANTS subheading.
Several metals and alloys have been used in the production of replicas
of claws and talons. Examples are gold, silver, pewter,
surgical steel and an
unnamed alloy prepared and fashioned into the
legs and talons of a wood carving of an European Jay (Garrulus glandarius (Linnaeus,
me in the
by my friend Ole
Randøy (d) of
Kongshavn, Norway. Life-size replicas of
claws and talons
fashioned from surgical steel are marketed as so-called body-piercing
glass replicas of eagle talons, and I suspect other claws
and talons, are marketed.
Dietrich © 2015
13 March 2015
web page created by Emmett Mason