Criminals steal London dino's dung

by Alexandra Ossola
Thursday, January 5, 2012

It took a big dinosaur to make dung this large. This coprolite was likely from a _Maiasaura_, an herbivorous dinosaur that walked upright on its hind legs. Karen Chin

Blogging on EARTH

A series of robberies over the past five years at London’s Natural History Museum has curators frustrated — and puzzled. From stuffed squirrels to scarab beetles, it seems that anything that can be carried is vulnerable. But most oddly, some thieves made off with a piece of fossilized dinosaur dung.

The dung, more scientifically called a coprolite, was on display at a 2006 museum exhibit about dinosaur eating habits called Dino Jaws. Thought to be from the massive herbivore Titanosaurus, which could weigh over 13 tons, it was 7.5 centimeters (about 3 inches) long and 65 million years old.

Now the museum is asking: Who would want to steal feces? Although museum spokespeople say that the estimated value of a coprolite such as this one could be very high, small coprolites are available for sale from reputable fossil merchants for only a few dollars.

Aside from the cost, the museum is upset because of the coprolite’s irreplacability. “Like works of art, they are completely unique and so cannot be compared to anything else. Consequently it is of great regret when items are stolen or lost,” Richard Lane, the director of science at the Natural History Museum, told the London Telegraph.

Although the theft has been reported to the police, no further action has been taken, according to the Telegraph.

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