Delving deep into dung!
Fossil poo table at Lyme Regis museum
- Fossilised 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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