OE Report: Turds Stand the Test of Time

Whether you elect to use a shovel, a net, or a scoop, animal scat is a biologist’s best buddy.

Scatalogical studies (yes, there’s a word for it!) describe animal behavior including diet, habits, and migratory routes. These treasured turds are packed with information and any good biologist knows that you must drop loads of time scouting for scat. Here are a couple of our favorites!

How do you study such an animal as large as a Blue Whale? Take a sample of something smaller. —Photo: Asha DeVos, Sri Lanka

The Pragmatism of Poop

In her TED talk last year, Asha de Vos began an interesting discussion about how we frame conservation issues. As a cetologist she has encountered a number of strong arguments for “saving the whales,” but emphasizes that this mission is best served when it is conveyed not only as the right thing to do, but also the pragmatic thing to do. When it comes to whales, the pragmatism is in the poop. Learn how the excrement from these massive animals helps to balance large ecosystems, and follow Asha’s continuing efforts to keep Blue Whales in our oceans:

Desert Dookies as Environmental Clues

Desert Tortoises in the Mohave are hard to spot, but they do leave a trace. — Photo: Tim Shields, Mohave, CA

Bring up cigars with Biologist Tim Shields and you might get caught in a conversation that you weren’t expecting. Searching for an animal which is camouflaged perfectly in its rocky Mohave Desert territory, Tim must keep his eyes peeled for any signs of a tortoise burrow, a shell in the distance, or “the old stogie look of a tortoise turd.” Come take a closer look:

For the up to the minute expedition news follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Subscribe to get the OpenExplorer report fresh each week.