As a biologist, I’ll admit it … there is nothing more fascinating to me than examining an organism’s excrements. Why? Because dissecting it (and by it, I mean ‘poo’) tells us all sorts of good stuff about what said critter has been eating and makes me feel a little like a detective … of natural history in this case! So I was admittedly pretty stoked that Rick MacPherson sent a question about dinosaur pee to Brian Switek for the Paleo Mailbag!
Are there any such things as dinosaur pee fossils?
This got my own mind reeling with all sorts of questions of my own! Could excrements (poo and pee) actually fossilize?!? I mean, they are soft matter after all, and more likely to decompose before having the opportunity to turn into dinosaur fossils. And if those excrements were to fossilize, would we be able to determine what the organisms ate from a fossilized piece of poo or even whose poo we were looking at? As it would happen poo and pee fossilizing is a very real thing. It is called coprolite in the case of poo, and urolite in the case of pee. And coprolite of dinosaur poo have been found!
So back to our question, does dinosaur pee fossilize too? Click play to listen to Brian explore just that!
You can also read more on the subject in this article of Brian’s on National Geographic’s Phenomena: The Surprising Science of Dinosaur Pee.