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Fossilized hyena dung found off Dutch coast

December 9, 2010

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AMSTERDAM—Researchers say a curled-up brown fossil dredged up off the Dutch coast is an ancient piece of hyena dung, the first found in the North Sea dating back to the Late Pleistocene era, 12,000-100,000 years ago.

Jelle Reumer, director of the Rotterdam Natural History museum called the prehistoric piece of poop "a beauty."

It was found during work to expand Rotterdam's port and went on display Thursday.

Reumer, a paleontologist, said the dung was dated by its sediment layer. He hopes a second example is found so it can be broken apart, studied and dated more exactly.

"Cave" hyenas were once common in Europe, and the fossil closely resembles modern hyena dung. But its color is misleading since before fossilization it would have been chalky gray.

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