2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Dinosaur poo? Maybe not

Published: February 26, 2014, 12:39 pm, by Bill Radford

Early this month, I wrote about Terry and Healther Galbreath and their Bonny Burn Ranch near Calhan. I mentioned that Terry gave me a piece of coprolite, or fossilized dinosaur dung. “We have it all over the place,” he said.

That statement caught the attention of Terry P. Beh of Castle Rock,  a member of the Colorado Mineralogical Society and former member of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society. A “fossil enthusiast” and a writer who has written articles on dinosaurs,  he had never heard of coprolite coming from that area and wondered whether it really was fossilized dino poop.

Beh paid a visit to the ranch and I heard from him today. His findings, via email:

Terry showed me the “coprolite” he has collected, but I’m almost certain that it is not fossilized dino poop or any other kind of coprolite. In my opinion, what Terry has on his ranch are merely concretions – rocks formed when a mineral attaches to an object and “grows” around it, similar to how a pearl is made. Most commonly in this area the concreting material is hematite, a variety of iron, which gives the rocks their orange-brown color. Some of Terry’s rocks had clear bands in them, like tree rings, which shows the layering effect. Coprolite would never have this kind of pattern in it. While some of Terry’s rocks didn’t show this kind of structure, I would bet that none of them is coprolite.