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Thu Nov 27 00:57:45 SAST 2014

What happened to dino poop? Cockroaches probably ate it: study

Times LIVE | 09 December, 2013 13:57
(A – head to leg end length: 3.8 mm) with antennal sensory system (B, C) and five preserved coprolites (D – optical, E – surface rendering of numbered coprolites and dense particles based on the image stack from synchrotron X-ray microtomography; F – ST orthoslice with labelled boundaries and fragments). Lebanon amber 1094A-I. Scales 0,5 mm.
Image by: Peter Vršanský mail, Thomas van de Kamp, Dany Azar, Alexander Prokin, L'ubomír Vidlička, Patrik Vagovič / Plos One

Dinosaurs likely left large amounts of excrement in their wake, leaving scientists wondering just what cleaned up after them.

A new study in the online journal Plos One proposes a candidate for this - cockroaches.

According to the study dung beetles and rapidly developing flies were rare during most of the Mesozoic, leaving a species of extinct cockroach (Blattulidae), which had a temporal range associated with herbivorous dinosaurs, as the best candidate for eating dinosaur their poop.

The researchers had a chance to test their hypothesis thanks to coprolite's extracted from an immature Lebanese cockroach that had been preserved in amber.

What they found after using synchrotron X-ray microtomography was that the coprolite's were 1.06% wood with smooth edges, suggesting that they had been pre-digested, which suggests that they were from those herbivorous dinosaurs.

You can read the full study on PloS One.

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