Opalized Coprolite

June 07, 2023

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Photographer: Mila Zinkova   
Summary Author: Mila Zinkova   

The photos above show an Australian opal specimen found at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. This opal is likely a trace fossil of an animal that lived in the area more than 100 million years ago. Namely, a coprolite, which is a fossil feces. Since it’s over 100 million years old, it has no odor. Coprolites are important fossils because sometimes they contain bones of creatures that were eaten by an animal to whom the feces belonged.

I sent these photos to Dr. Elisabeth Smith of the Australia Opal Center. Below is her response. Note that Dr. Smith has only seen the photos of this specimen and not the actual specimen itself, so her identification is tentative.

“Yes, it's like a vertebrate coprolite in shape but again, the surface was altered by the mining process and is artificially abraded in places. However small areas of the remaining surface texture and the internal structure (which is unusual, a bit like bone histology) suggest this might be a coprolite." 

Well, if it is a coprolite, it’s indeed a beautiful specimen. To learn more about this specimen and coprolites please watch this video.


Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia Coordinates: 29.4278, 147.9790

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