Dung: Storehouse of knowledge on climate change

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London, Feb 24 (UNI) Next time your mommy rubbishes your collected articles as ''trash'', remind her about Northern Arizona University's researcher Jim Mead-- the largest dung collector in the world.

Mr Mead's Center for Environmental Sciences and Education, has row after row of cabinets with thousands of dung pieces used by experts to get accurate data on topics, including the environmental changes that took place during the last 100,000 years.

''Dung is accurate for carbon dating,'' explained Mr Mead, adding that a lot could be told about the climate by analysing what plants the animals ate.

It helps in knowing the environment prevalent at the time, such as the amount of rainfall that was occurring.

''The plant remains in the dung allow us to determine the mosaic of plants in the local plant community. The community structure changes with changes in climate,'' he says.

Experts compare ancient dung DNA samples to learn about an animal's gender, food and water sources, air pollen, parasites and community structure during the Ice Age. The data helps to determine when and how an animal evolved and became extinct.

The collection includes dung from modern animals to prehistoric ground sloths and 40,000-year-old mammoths. The collection is dried and stored wrapped in tissue inside sturdy, archival cardboard boxes.

''Although our research is humorous, the data from dung is nothing to laugh about,'' Mr Mead said.

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