Sunday, 8 February 2009

Oh S**t - or more politely - Lizard Poo

Leeds University has apologised to Daniel Bennett, a graduate student and friend of Helen, who lost his unique collection of rare lizard excrement when it was thrown away by mistake. Daniel had been studying the Bhutan Lizard (Varanus olivaceus) for more than five years in the Philippines and was working towards a doctorate. The lizard - also known as Gray’s Monitor – is one of the world's rarest reptiles, it was thought to be extinct for over 100 years.

When he returned from field studies “I was surprised to find my desk space occupied by another student and to see that photographs of my daughter, my girlfriend and my favourite lizards had been removed from the wall. The laboratory space where my samples had been stored was empty. Irritation turned to fear as I realized that my personal effects had been carefully stowed in boxes, but there was no sign of my 35-kilogram bag of lizard shit. Fear turned to anger and bewilderment when I learned that my samples had been ‘accidentally’ removed from the lab and incinerated.”

He said the reptile was so shy that he studied what it ate through its droppings, rather than trapping or disturbing it. The tree-dwelling lizard’s reclusiveness makes it difficult to study, he explained, so the fecal samples were invaluable. Nonetheless their destruction did not stop him from finishing his Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. For more information on the Butaan lizard, see


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