Tyrannosaurus rex(T. rex) poop is the latest gift from the Canadian province of Saskatchewan to the United States’ premier museum, the Smithsonian Institution. Those guys up north are all heart, aren’t they? The best part is that the specimen of dinosaur droppings — also known as a coprolite — isn’t even the real deal, just a replica.
All kidding aside, on Wednesday the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) announced that the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., had actually approached them to request the T. rex poop for their 2013 exhibit called Putting Dinosaurs In Their Place.
The 65 million year old fossil is believed to have been deposited by the large meat-eating predator after the T. rex had feasted on a young vegetarian dinosaur, likely a duck-billed dinosaur or a horned dinosaur like a Triceratops.
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the National Museum of Natural History Dr. Hans Sues confirmed the announcement:
“We want to show our visitors that paleontologists do not just work with fossil bones and teeth but can also draw on other lines of evidence such as coprolites and tracks to reconstruct the life and times of ancient backboned animals.”
The RSM noted that the bone chips in the fossilT. rex poop are sharp, rather than smoothed down by stomach acid, suggested that the meat didn’t spend a long time in the predator’s digestive system before it came out the other end. Hey. I’m glad somebody is on the job to make sure we get all the facts about this very important piece of c***.
The specimen of the top predator of the age in southeastern Saskatchewan is too valuable to leave their own museum. That’s why the Smithsonian is getting a replica.
However, lesser specimens of fossil feces are found frequently enough that they are sold at relatively low cost to collectors — and sometimes even cut and polished to make dino poop jewelry. I have a small specimen myself.
But for a real conversation starter, I have to admit that I’d love to have a big ole T. rex poop in my collection.
[T. rex "poop" coprolite specimen photo courtesy Government of Saskatchewan, Canada]
[top photo coprolite specimen by Parent Géry via Wikimedia Commons]