Friday, August 08, 2008

What is a Coprolite and Where Can I find One?

Author: Joseph Patrick

Sometime during the 1970's I remember reading an article about Lloyds bank in the UK and what it had in common with an ancient Viking encampment once located in York, England. I remember the story being reported in the Wall Street Journal and I also remember it was the first time I had ever encountered the word ""coprolite.""

So what is a coprolite you ask? (I can save you a trip to the dictionary and tell you that a ""coprolite"" is scientific talk for ""fossilized feces,"" in other words, it's a ""petrified turd."") If you would like to know ""where can I find one?"" just continue reading.

The Lloyds bank having resolved to be represented in York, purchased the property that was to be the home of their new branch office.

During the initial site digging, workers began to find artifacts from a much earlier time. A decision was made to do some Archeological work before continuing with construction. It was during this dig that a 9-inch long coprolite was discovered. It was ultimately determined to be of human origin, and is reputedly the largest specimen of human feces ever recovered.

What to do now? Call in the Paleontologists. These are the guys who study the history of life on earth based on fossil evidence. Fossil evidence includes among other things; rocks, dinosaur bones and of course ""coprolites"". By analyzing coprolites, human and otherwise, it is sometimes possible to determine the diet of the animal which produced them and also the health of that animal.

Whoever left this magnificent piece of human excrement lying in the dirt a thousand years ago surely couldn't imagine anything of its recent retrieval and subsequent study. But scientists tell us the owner of this coprolite, whether male of female was not a great vegetable eater and they subsisted mainly on meats and grain. It seems other smaller coprolites found at this same site contained more vegetable and fruit matter. They also noted evidence of several-hundred parasite eggs in the feces, which would indicate that the owner's stomach and intestines would have been full of worms. Not a very pleasant thought Yuk!

The now famous Lloyds Bank Turd is the property of the York Archaeological Trust and has been on display at the Archaeological Resource Centre in York. The human coprolite is currently undergoing repairs as it was recently broken into several pieces when its display stand toppled.

I haven't located any information on what other rarities were uncovered at the UK location if any, but rest assured, history will only be inclined to remember the 9-inch human coprolite produced by a Viking and now affectionately named the Lloyds Bank Turd.

About the author: A part-time writer and full-time webmaster, Joseph Patrick, can be found managing his full service travel website, where you will find the resources to book affordable trips to over 710 unique, popular and exciting destinations using the exclusive Triptactics Do-It-Yourself Vacation Package Builder.


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