Scientists recently made a startling discovery in fossilized dinosaur poop2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
When someone says the word fossils, what do you think of? Bones? Maybe even footprints? What if we told you that this category also included poop? Scientists recently hit the jackpot with a new discovery in fossilized dinosaur poop!
Dinosaurs lived from 250 million years ago to about 60 million years ago. In the earlier parts of this 190-million-year-long period, around 230 million years ago, a dinosaur pooped and scientists discovered the fossilized remains of this recently. They scanned it, and found a new species of beetle.
The beetle was found in the poop of a relatively smaller dinosaur called Silesaurus opolensis that lived 230 million years ago.
They scanned this dinosaur’s poop in a way similar to how X-ray and CT scans are done at hospitals these days. Since they were dealing with much smaller beings, they had to use a higher resolution method called synchrotron microtomography. This method scans the density of the material. If the scientists detect a major change in density, they outline the area. This is how they were able to make the outline of the beetle, which they named Triamyxa coprolithica. If the scan achieves a good contrast, they can remove the surrounding material around the object of interest (here, the beetle) and get a 3-D model of it. Something like this:
This species belongs to a group of beetles called coprolites. It is believed to be two metres long, and weighed around 15-20 kilograms— quite a size for a beetle!
They were not well known before, although scientists hope this discovery will boost their “popularity”. The scientists have decided to go on with research on coprolites, assign them and send them to other labs. These labs will then determine and map out ancient food webs from dinosaur times.
Another interesting thing the scientists noticed was that the dinosaur generally preyed on larger beings. This meant the dinosaur accidentally ingested the beetle. While the dinosaur was on its usual hunt, the beetle must have been swallowed up with the rest of the prey.
With excerpts from The Indian Express