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An Animal Makes A $10,000 Deposit, But Not At The Bank

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 12:03 PM

It's a highly specialized category to be sure: "Longest." But that's what the auctioneer is selling. According to the catalog of I.M. Chait Gallery, in Beverly Hills"This truly spectacular specimen is possibly the longest example of coprolite ever to be offered at auction."

Forty inch long rare coprolite from the Miocene era.
Courtesy of I.M. Chait 

Coprolite is fossilized fecal matter. This specimen is roughly 20 million years old. For the guy who has everything (and who has occasionally looked below to see what he's produced in the porcelain bowl), here's a souvenir worth bragging about. "Mine is from the Miocene and it's the "longest," he can say (ignoring the slippery word "possibly.") The auctioneer is looking for a bid of $8,000 to $10,000.

A detail of the coprolite.
Courtesy of I.M. Chait 

Its other attributes? "It boasts a wonderfully even, pale brown-yellow coloring and terrifically detailed texture to the heavily botryoidal surface across the whole of its immense length," the catalog says.

Botryoidal? I looked it up. It means clumpy, from the Greek for a "bunch of grapes." Like when you see undigested bits and think, "that's the stale part of the fruitcake I had to eat at my aunt's house yesterday."

Who Made It?

What the coprolite's producer had eaten, we don't know. What sort of animal it was, we can't say. "The passer of this remarkable object is unknown," says the catalog, but "it is nonetheless a highly evocative specimen of unprecedented size, presented in four sections, each with a heavy, black-marble custom base, with an eye-watering 40 inches in length overall."

Forty inches! That's big, no? It's certainly big if you're a 5-foot-8-inch human. Upright, it would reach to your shoulders. Had the producer of this string been a dinosaur — one of those superlong plant-eaters with a long neck that could stretch for 90 feet (1080 inches) — then this chain of poop would be only 1/26, or so, of its body length. That's nothing. You probably know somebody who has produced a similarly scaled achievement in modern times. (Maybe that somebody is you).

But because this specimen comes from the Miocene — a fairly recent era, after the dinosaurs had vanished — maybe this "release" is impressive. I looked up animals from the Miocene and found most to be modest in size. The most dramatic non-marine giant was an Argentine bird bigger than anything we have today, called Argentavis magnificens (literally "magnificent Argentine bird"). This will give you a sense of its scale ...

Argentavis magnificens vs. a human.
Robert Krulwich/NPR

It had wingspan of 23 feet, but a body not much bigger than most human bodies. If this bird was the pooper, a release of this length would indeed have been an eyebrow raiser (if anyone back then had eyebrows). So maybe coprolite is, as the catalog says, "a truly spectacular specimen." I don't know. More knowledgeable folks than I will be bidding next week when it comes up for sale. I will report the results on this page when (and if) there's a winning bid.

The auction starts at 1 p.m. on July 26.

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Comments [5]

Joe Padgett from Pasco, FL

Just what every American man needs.... more Crap lying around the house.

Aug. 16 2014 05:44 PM
Dave from Northeast FL

One evening, some years ago, as many of us sat watching a particular snippet of a news broadcast, I couldn't help but think to myself while watching the snippet, something rather akin to ".. the ball is in play and the fix is indeed on ..". It was one of those moments of affirmation which always seem to be all too few.
The snippet I am referring to, and maybe you will recall, is the one where our own Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, uttered the following words:
".. there are no "knowns." There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know. .."
The moment the words hit my ears, it seemed, I knew they were going to be worth remembering.

Some time later I came across an article (link below) and it made me think of a few possibilities .. and a few fears as well.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-
dilemma-1/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Ultimately, after many moments of thought about my own self and self perception, I began to have doubts about all things real .. in a way.

Have you ever watched a strange traffic situation where there is an oblivious driver who causes a (potentially) dangerous situation in their wake and has no idea of having done so ? Here in FL there are plenty of old people on the road who may be naturally clueless, and some who are clueless with as a result of medication. But it isn't always old people who cause these situations.
Later down the road, maybe at the next traffic light, one driver pulls alongside the other waving his middle finger or fist, while wearing a fresh lapful of coffee. The other driver is, of course, completely clueless as to what's with the crazy weirdo in the next car over and does his best not to stare at the whacko.
So the question something about how do we know that we are not all anosognosics (if you followed the above link) to some degree ? What if we all are, collectively, and it shows in the things we are doing ? You know, global warming (climate change) and a few other obvious things ?
The smaller question which we each may ask ourselves is obvious, and painful to entertain.
I'll let you guys figure out the rest.

I love the show and I hope you will someday bring it to the screen, maybe the silver screen !

Thanks,
David B Cooper

Aug. 02 2014 07:52 PM
lisbeth jardine from Port Angeles, WA

Fossil scientists from Whitman College, who've been studying the "Wilkes Formation in southwestern Washington, . . . . according to an article in the journal Ichnos by Whitman College paleontologist Patrick Spencer published in 1993."

Was Six-Million-Year-Old Turd Auctioned for $10,000 a Faux Poo?
Paleontologists skeptical of "possibly the longest example of coprolite" offered at auction

"On the Integrative Paleontologists blog, Andrew Farke, curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California, pointed out that "the 'coprolites' from the Wilkes Formation are simply mud squirted out under the pressure or burial or perhaps as decaying organic matter produced methane."

DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENTS OF THE WILKES FORMATION AT SALMON CREEK, WASHINGTON: SOURCE OF SIDERITE 'COPROLITE' CONCRETIONS
YANCEY, Thomas E., Geology & Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3115, yancey@geo.tamu.edu and MUSTOE, George, Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225, mustoeg@cc.wwu.edu

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140729-dinosaur-coprolite-paleontology-dung-fossil-auction/

Aug. 02 2014 05:15 PM

As soon as I saw the whole picture my "what the f**k" moment was answered.

Didn't even have to read eat.

Looks like the most expensive piece of shit ever.

BRING ON THE PUNS

Aug. 01 2014 10:27 PM
Oct8pus from New Jersey

So did anybody purchase this old piece of crap?

Jul. 29 2014 12:30 PM

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