One of the premises I have always worked under is
"It's not what can you carve, it's what can't you carve?"
The answer being pretty close to nothing. I've even seen some amazing things carved out of toothbrush handles! It's a massive task to give detailed information on everything that has ever been hacked into by someone with a chisel or a chainsaw ... but here goes!
The following is a brief description of what you can carve:
Where to find bone?
Get fresh shin bones (beef -- try a local farmer or butcher) and scrape clean inside and out. Wash in detergent. Stew gently 1/2 hour in detergent and nappy (diaper) cleaner. Soak two days then wash and dry. Enjoy!
Cleaned up shinbone from sturdy New Zealand cows provides the most accessible material for bone carvers. Whilst limited by its size, it has a uniform white finish much like ivory, little grain and holds detail readily. Students are taught with it and much high quality work has been produced from it. Not to be underestimated!
Like all New Zealand carvers, I am against the killing of any marine mammals and only use washed up material, usually quite old when found.
Whales washed up in New Zealand become the property of the Department of Conservation and are then buried and then given over to the local iwi (Maori tribe) for distribution if and when this is deemed appropriate.
Whalebone is the next most famous material for carving. Pendants and weapons were cut from it by the Maori and other island peoples around the world. Very useful for tools and other ornaments. I have come across a great variation in types depending on which part of the body is used and where it was found.
The characteristics of the various types of whalebone are as follows: