Yep, dinosaurs are known by more than just their bones. I have been reading quite a few research papers about dinosaurs as I prepare to write a long set of posts about Dr. Schweitzer and the significance of soft-tissue preservation in dinosaur bones. During this reading I got distracted by a discussion about dinosaur coprolites which is the more polite word for fossil dung, droppings, doo-doo etc…. it suddenly hit me, wow, fossil dung is far more common than I thought and I already thought it was quite common! I have written about dinosaur nests (Fossil eggs, nests, floods and stressed pregnant dinosaurs) and other somewhat ephemeral features which are preserved in the fossil record and how they present a serious challenge to the YEC global flood hypothesis but it struck me that this mass of dino-droppings is a conceptually simpler and even more challenging problem. I can’t find any estimates of just how many poops may be preserved in the fossil record but it is quite clear that just considering dinosaurs, there are far far more dinosaur coprolites in the geological column than there are dinosaur bones themselves. There must be millions of tons of dinosaur feces in the fossil record. I would venture to guess that the mass of coprolites far exceeds the mass of the dinosaurs represented by the bones that are preserved.
So what does this have to do with the Genesis Flood? Just ask yourself, where did all these dinosaur droppings come from? These droppings are found in the middle of the geological column. This part of the geological column is said to have been from the latter stages of a global flood 4000 years ago according to young earth creationists. As we have seen before, to explain why there are dinosaur nests and footprints in this part of the geological record, YECs, claim that dinosaurs were able to survive the first stages of the global flood and thus were running around for their life at this time, finally succumbed to the watery abyss as fatigue and the last stages of the flood set in. As strained as that explanation may seem consider that in these same layers of rock there appears to be far more dinosaur droppings than there is dinosaur mass. Any dinosaur that has been running around for 20-100 days escaping the global flood waters will have had no time to eat (there wouldn’t be anything to eat in the barren landscape anyway) and would have voided their intestines in the first days of the flood. Their feces should be found in the lower part of the geological column in places that ran from. Surely, no one would believe that dino droppings could be picked up by a flood, mixed with vast amounts of sediments and then deposited later on. Even those dinosaurs that still managed to have some material left to void after a month would have voided it in a land of chaos that would soon be covered by fast moving waters. How would these be preserved in a global chaotic event? Where I have seen creationists mention coprolites in the fossil record they talk about them in the context of evidence of meat eating dinosaurs existing before the flood rather than explaining their existence at all. It seems that they either are oblivious to the obvious ramifications of their presence or they simply are ignoring them.
But dino droppings are just a drop in the bucket in terms of the feces preserved in the geological column. Bird feces in the forms of massive layers of preserved guano and fish fecal pellets are found in massive numbers. To provide just one example, the Green River Formation in the western US is famous for its fossilized fish. Creationists have questioned how they could be preserved so well in the millions of layers of sediments. Leaving that question aside here, these layers also contain countless fish coprolites as well. Rarely are these acknowledged in the creationist literature but Daniel Woolley in 2001 did address the topic in a creationist journal. There he acknowledged that that fish coprolites in densities of 100 to 350 per square meter and up to 2.5 cm long are found in many parts of the Green River formation. These coprolites are found in conjunction with layers in which fish are also found. Fish coprolites in this are surely must number in the many billions and be represented at least 1000 to one over the presence of fish. If, as Woolley suggests, that coprolites in these rocks represent the voided contents of fish caught in a global flood then here again we have far more poop than one would expect to find coming from a fish in such a short period of time.
Addendum: I just read a further story of interest this morning. Fossilized dung balls formed by the action of dung beetles have been found in South America. Dung beetles take dung from large dung piles of herbivores like elephants and roll pieces up into balls, roll them away and bury them for safe keeping like a squirrel buries nuts. The presence of these in the fossil record is yet another evidence that where they are preserved represents a place were the normal ecology of the world was working rather than a large global catastrophe. For dung balls to be found in burrows, now only did there have to be fresh dung around but it had to be there long enough for beetles to do their work. Again, in the young earth creationists view these beetles were living near the end of a global catastrophe after 20,000 feet of sediments had suddenly been laid down and yet they were still alive managed to find fresh dung and had time to roll it up and bury it before being covered by the next giant wave of water that would then cover them with many new layers of sediments that would become rock. And yet I am told over and over by that the global flood is the best explanation for fossils and the origins of geological phenomena.