Termites do it. Crocodiles do it. And, of course, we humans do it too.
But what happens when poop becomes fossilized? Well, it becomes something called a coprolite and it provides paleontologists with valuable information about the lifestyles — and diets — of prehistoric animals.
In August, Guinness World Records certified George Frandsen’s coprolite collection as the world’s largest collection of fossilized dung. The count was undertaken at the South Florida Museum and conducted by two paleontology specialists from the Florida Museum of Natural History and a (very patient) witness. They meticulously inspected each coprolite specimen to determine if it was a true poop fossil or just a wanna-be fossilized poop. South Florida Museum staff supervised the hours-long count to help ensure all of the Guinness World Records rules were followed.
|South Florida Museum Director of Education Jeff Rodgers holds ‘Precious,’ the largest coprolite in this Guinness-certified collection.
This unique collection — which includes a fossilized poo specimen nicknamed ‘Precious’ believed to have been left behind by a crocodilian species — will be unveiled at the South Florida Museum on Oct. 3 — “National Fossil Day.”
Museum Education Director Jeff Rodgers, a coprolite collector in his own right, is especially enthusiastic about this special exhibition. “This isn’t just any poop. This is fossilized poop. Scientifically, we call the prized nuggets coprolites, or ‘dungstones.’ They are beautiful, in their way, and they are important because they can actually tell us quite a bit about the plant and animal life that flourished in ecosystems that disappeared millions of years ago.” Rodgers served as the official witness to the count and loved every minute of it. “Twenty million year old crocodilian coprolites! Spirals of fossilized fish poop! Bags of mineralized frog feces! That is a good day at work.”
The Museum, which is offering reduced price admission all day – less than half price at $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+) and $7 for kids (4-12), is excited to participate in the celebration of all things fossil organized by the National Park Service. The day is designed to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils and a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational value. The Museum is partnering with local and state agencies, organizations and clubs to promote the exploration, education and protection of our ancient past as the local host of National Fossil Day.
Throughout the day, guests will have the opportunity to meet paleontologists and geologists who work each day to uncover the secrets that fossils reveal about our Earth and the organisms that once lived on our planet — including the information we can learn from prehistoric excretions.
The Amazing Coprolite Collection includes 1,277 individual coprolites from 15 states in the U.S. and eight countries. During the official count, more than 30 would-be coprolites were “flushed,” as the paleontologists could not be certain that they were, in fact, actual fossilized poop.
But now, Guinness has said it really is the world’s largest collection of fossilized poop, so you know that we’re not just … um… kidding you here.
You can learn more about the ‘The Amazing Coprolite Collection’ at George Frandsen’s online museum called — what else? — The Poozeum
- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fossil Exhibitors (see details below)
- 11:15 a.m. “Florida Fossil Hunting for Kids!” presented by Zack Deyo
- 12:30 p.m. Poozeum Curator George Frandsen presents “Fun with Fossilized Poo”
- 2 p.m. “Florida Geology 101” presented by Assistant State Geologist Guy “Harley” Means
- 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “Scat & Tracks, Now & Then” Workshop for kids.
- 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Family Friendly activities, including: “Curating Cocoa-Coprolites” and “Fossil Forensics”
- 4:15 p.m. Special Screening of “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure” in the Bishop Planetarium
Throughout the day:
- Junior Paleontologist Badge Program in the Spanish Courtyard
- Outdoors Fossil dig for kids! Sponsored by Mosaic
- Speakers and Workshops
Accessible for FREE!
- Fossil Dig for kids presented by Mosaic
- Florida Fossil Hunters
- Fossil Club of Lee County
- Southwest Florida Fossil Society
- Multiple Vendors
With paid museum admission – Reduced price for the day!!
- Florida Paleontological Society
- Florida Museum of Natural History
- The Fossil Project
- Sarasota Shell Club – Mr. Ron Bopp
- Bone Pile Flint Knapping Demonstration
- Florida Geological Foundation
- Florida Geological Survey