Fossil poo

Fossil Favourite Stamp Fossil poo

Delving deep into dung!

Fossil poo table at Lyme Regis museum
Fossil poo table at Lyme Regis museum
  • Fossil poo is easy to identify. Why? Because it looks just like poo!
  • The proper name for fossil poo is coprolites. ‘Copro’ comes from the Greek word for ‘dung’, and ‘lite’ from the Greek for ‘stone’.
  • They are often packed with fish scales and even bone.
  • This specimen is from a shark. You can see the coils left as it travelled through the gut.
  • For poo to fossilise, it needed to fall onto a still seafloor so it didn’t disintegrate. There it gradually hardened while being buried by sediments, so it kept its shape.
  • The 1800s geologist William Buckland was so fascinated by fossil poo that he made a table top out of it! The coprolites in the table have mineral veins coming out of them which look like legs, leading to the name ‘beetle stones’.
  • See these coprolites at Allhallows Museum and the table at Lyme Regis Museum.

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