Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

11 Things Fossil Dung Scientists Found in Fossilized Poop

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Paleoscatologists have, quite possibly, the most epic job description ever: “fossil dung scientists.” Among the best-known is Kim Chin, who maintains that fossil feces—which are known scientifically as coprolites—can “teach us about the diet of ancient animals and how those animals interacted with each other” to an arguably greater extent than their celebrated skeletal remains. With that in mind, let’s examine a few items spotted in prehistoric poo.

1. Dinosaur Bones

Found in dung attributed to Tyrannosaurus rex; the bones belonged to a plant-eating species. According to Smithsonian, the amount of bone still left in the poop suggests that what the T. rex ingested didn't remain in its digestive system for long enough for it to break down; this is a marked difference from modern crocodiles and snakes. 

2. Louse Eggs and Human Hair

Found in 2000-year-old human feces. The egg was still attached to the hair. 

3. Tapeworm Eggs

Found in a 270-million-year-old shark coprolite that had been buried in a lakebed. According to National Geographic, "The density of the minifossils suggests that the eggs were part of a tapeworm body segment that breaks off and passes out of the body with feces, a standard part of the tapeworm life cycle that is still in place today. The strategy relies on some unlucky consumer coming along and eating the parasite-laden poop, giving the eggs a new home and starting the process anew."

4. Dung Beetle Burrows.

Found in numerous specimens spanning tens of millions of years.

5. Seeds

Found in ancient poop belonging to an extinct flightless Moa bird. Despite the fact that the bird was nearly 10 feet tall, most of the seeds came from plants that were under 2 feet tall. 

6. Shells

Found in human excrements dating to 2400 BCE.

7. Fish Scales

Found in numerous marine deposits from several geological periods. Here’s a handy link to a small sample from central Kansas.

8. Wood Fragments

Found in 83-million-year-old dinosaur droppings.

9. Spores

Found in material attributed to prehistoric arthropods.

10. Bacterial Colonies

Found in 90-million-year-old dinosaur dung (along with several other specimens throughout much of the fossil record).

11. Evidence of Pre-digestion.

Found in a 12,000-year-old Mammoth coprolite. “Mammoths Ate Their Own Poo” shouts a 2010 Discover magazine headline after tell-tale fungi samples revealed that at least some of these majestic mammals ingested their own fecal matter. Many modern species—including rats and elephants—do the same, in order to gain the most nutrition out of what they've already processed once.

From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State

There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]


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