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Paleofeces, not Coprolites

Posted by alandove on 25 Sep 2014 at 12:10 GMT

Can we please stop misusing the term "coprolite"? The proper word in this case is "paleofeces" (or "paleofaeces if you're British). Fossilization is a complex chemical process that effectively replaces the original item with minerals. Coprolites (genuine fossilized feces) therefore retain no recoverable genetic material. They also take millions, not thousands of years to form. Paleofeces are essentially dried feces, retaining the genetic information that makes these recent analyses possible. They're not fossils. Please stop saying they are.

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RE: Paleofeces, not Coprolites

gatoranzos replied to alandove on 26 Sep 2014 at 18:49 GMT

The term coprolites, as described in the literature are "mummified or fossilized feces." Although one can argue for the point being made by the poster, that they are all in fact paleofeces, the actual artifacts go beyond being "dried feces." They are not just dried, in consistency, they resemble lithic material. As such, we have tried to be sensitive to the use of the term, not calling them "fossils"; however, in the absence of a better term, coprolite seems to be more descriptive than simply paleofeces.

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RE: RE: Paleofeces, not Coprolites

alandove replied to gatoranzos on 01 Oct 2014 at 18:32 GMT

That other papers in the literature contain the same error does not justify perpetuating it. The term "paleofeces" is quite specific, and describes precisely the material discussed in this and the other erroneous "coprolite sequencing" papers. It is worthwhile to use two separate terms for these two very different types of samples.

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