Fossil Facts > Coprolites

In our last post, we mentioned coprolites. At the museum, we have a table decorated with them: Buckland’s Table. William Buckland was one of the founders of modern geological science.

Buckland made a major contribution to our understanding of the age of the Earth, and worked to unite geological observations with the teachings of the Church of England.

He had a great fondness for Lyme Regis, and frequently visited the cliffs on fossil-collecting trips with other geological pioneers, including William Conybeare, Henry De la Beche and Mary Anning.

The Life and Correspondence of William Buckland noted that: “…local gossip preserved traditions of his adventures with that geological celebrity, Mary Anning, in whose company he was seen to be wading up to his knees in search of fossils”.

Buckland was an avid collector and had wide connections in geological university, church and political circles. In 1818 he became the first Professor of Geology at the University of Oxford @UniofOxford

He recognised that the ‘bezoar stones’ found by Mary Anning were fossilised dung – called coprolites. Buckland founded the science of paleoscatology, the study of coprolites.

Coprolites can be polished to show their interior structure. Short black lines can often be seen in them, which are the edges of fish scales (see drawing).

Tags: coprolite