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Ed Dobrzanski, a man who literally gives a ...

Ed Dobrzanski holding the theropod coprolite

If we think about it at all, most of us tend to consider dung (poop) as a substance to be gotten rid of, not something to be collected and treasured. And that is the case for at least 99.9% of it, but of course the situation is different when the dung is in fossilized form, and when it comes from giant, long-extinct creatures.

Fossilized dinosaur dung, or coprolites, has been studied for nearly two centuries. Dinosaur coprolites can tell us quite a bit about the diet and physiology of the creatures, and of course they also make interesting “conversation pieces.”

The splendid theropod coprolite donated by Ed

The splendid agatized theropod coprolite (V-3106)

The Museum is fortunate to have a few good coprolites in our collection, but the quality of this collection was greatly enhanced by a recent donation from long-time Community Associate Ed Dobrzanski. Ed gave us, from his personal collection, two superb coprolites that he had purchased from a dealer about 25 years ago. These are both from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Utah, the 150 million year-old home of famous dinosaur bones such as those of AllosaurusStegosaurusDiplodocus, and Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus.

The first coprolite is the dung of a meat-eating theropod, possibly Allosaurus, since it is the most common large theropod found in the Morrison Formation. This example, perhaps rather graphically, carries the shape associated with its original source!

The second specimen is from large plant-eating dinosaur, possibly a sauropod such as Apatosaurus. At first glance, it appears to be a very ordinary, concretion-like rock. However, it has been cut and polished, and the internal structure is revealed as a strikingly beautiful series of agatized blobs and whorls.

At first glance, the sauropod coprolite may look like a rather ordinary lump of rock, but its polished surface reveals a strikingly beautiful [jasper?] interior.

The sauropod coprolite, with external surface above and cut and polished surface below (V-3105)


Dr. Graham Young

Curator of Geology & Paleontology

See Full Biography

Graham Young grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick. After doing a B.Sc. in biology at the University of New Brunswick, he switched to geology and did an M.Sc. in paleontology at the University of Toronto. After completing a Ph.D. at the University of New Brunswick in 1988, Graham spent two years in Newcastle, England, studying fossils from the Island of Gotland, Sweden. He moved to Winnipeg in 1990 to do research at the University of Manitoba, and has worked at the Manitoba Museum since 1993.

At the Museum, Graham’s curatorial work involves all aspects of geology and paleontology. He is responsible for building the collections, dealing with public inquiries, and preparing exhibits. Over the years, Graham’s research has become broader in scope, moving from specialist studies of fossil corals, towards research on ancient environments, ecosystems, and unusual fossils such as jellyfish and horseshoe crabs. Most of his current field research is on sites in the Grand Rapids Uplands and elsewhere in northern Manitoba.