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Discovering the Past Through Dino Poop

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Although the praire outside of Choteau, Montana is best known as the fossil quarry that provided definitive paleontological insights into the parenting habits of dinosaurs, it’s also the perfect place to hunt less famous fossilized treasures, namely dino poo (known as coprolites). The same flood event that occurred some 70 million years that buried huge numbers of hadrosaurs and their nests also preserved their feces for posterity. Using the coprolites found in the region, paleontologist Karen Chin has discovered unique insights into the climate, ecology, and behavior of the species who created it. In her lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Chin and collaborators examine the poop in microscopic detail using state of the art chemical analyses. Their findings have revealed the unusual dietary habits of hadrosaurs in the area as well thriving populations of invertebrates.
Produced by Luke Groskin
Article by Lauren J. Young
Music by Audio Network
Additional Footage and Stills Provided by Pond5, Karen Chin, James Super
Huge Thanks to the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Karen Chin, Frank Garrett Boudinot (Julio Sepulveda laboratory), the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the Rockies, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
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