Fossilized remains are always one of the highly interesting items at auctions. Owing to their rarity, these mineralized and hardened pieces of prehistoric flora and fauna are fiercely fought over and end up being bought at very high prices. Interestingly, a new paleontological oddity has made its way to auction and boy, are they strange.
Technically classified as a coprolite, these fossilized droppings are being auctioned by the I.M. Chait Gallery in Los Angeles, California. The largest of these remains was discovered in a formation in Washington State that dates back to the Miocene and Oligocene epochs, between 33 and 5 million years ago.
The Jurassic era fecal matter is no laughing matter considering that the gallery is expecting to get anywhere between $4,000 to 10,000 per turd when they hit the auction block less than a week from today, reported The Huffington Post. Though describing a turd is never easy, the descriptions of these “items” have to be read be to believed:
“Although it is often impossible to tell which species produced these fascinating petrified feces, it is supposed that the fine examples found in a small area of Washington State are from a Miocene turtle. It is also suggested that rather than being coprolites, they are in fact cololites, internal casts of the intestine. What is undeniable is their evocative and varied form, superbly demonstrated in this collection of five different examples, two of finely textured botryoidal form, one in rich rusty red, the other a dark purple-brown, attractively speckled in white; one from a creature apparently in need of a more fibrous diet, of unusually soft definition in warm orange-ochre; and two with deeply cracked surfaces exactly like dried excrement, in green-gray and burnt umber, 4 to 6 inches long”
While the above description is about smaller pieces of turd from the Jurassic era, the gallery is putting up another piece of historic fecal matter that is one for the record books as it measures an eye-watering length of 40 inches, reported Popular Science. Careful not to mistake the giant piece of turd to the one belonging to a dinosaur, the coprolite is nonetheless remarkable in its length and consistency. The gallery describes the turd as follows:
“This truly spectacular specimen is possibly the longest example of coprolite — fossilized dinosaur feces — ever to be offered at auction. It boasts a wonderfully even, pale brown-yellow coloring and terrifically detailed texture to the heavily botryoidal surface across the whole of its immense length. The passer of this remarkable object is unknown, but it is nonetheless a highly evocative specimen of unprecedented size, presented in four sections, each with a heavy black marble custom base, an eye-watering 40 inches in length overall.”
When organic matter is replaced with minerals, turds become coprolites. Paleontologists have found coprolites of many different animals, including dinosaurs, cats, and even pre-historic humans. Typically the petrification process takes a few thousand years.
[Image Credit | I.M. Chait]