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You threw away my sh!t!
Lost to science - the world's biggest collection of lizard poo
* Sam Jones
* The Guardian, Saturday 7 February 2009
For centuries the steaming jungles of the globe and the slithering, scuttling but often unseen creatures that inhabit them have beckoned mysteriously to adventurers, biologists and botanists. But it was not a myth or legend, nor a rare bird or secretive serpent that lured Daniel Bennett to the rainforests of the Philippines. It was lizard poo. Kilos and kilos of it.
After five years spent in hot and difficult pursuit of the rare butaan lizard, cousin to the mighty komodo dragon, the PhD student had managed to collect 35kg (77lb) of its ****.
Which perhaps explains why he was so furious to return to Leeds University for his third year only to discover that a lab technician had thrown out his sack of samples.
"I was surprised to find my desk space occupied by another student," he said. "My personal effects had been carefully stowed in boxes, but there was no sign of my 35kg bag of lizard ****."
Bennett told the Times Higher Education supplement: "To some people it might have been just a bag of lizard ****, but to me it represented seven years of painstaking work searching the rainforest with a team of reformed poachers to find the **** of one of the world's largest, rarest and most mysterious lizards."
While Bennett admitted he could not say for sure whether the bag had represented "the largest collection of lizard **** in the world", he added: "It certainly contained the only dietary sample from that little-known species Varanus olivaceus, and probably the most complete dietary record of any single population of animals in south-east Asia."
He said the lizard's extremely reclusive nature meant that it could not be studied in the same way as the komodo dragon, compelling him to invent his own his ****-based methodology to avoid disturbing his timorous subject.
The loss of the bag, said the scientist, had left him reeling and "altered the course of my life forever".
He has declined the university's offer of £500 in compensation, opting instead to "see them in court".
Leeds University said that it had responded to Bennett's official complaint and given him a full apology in August last year, but was unaware of any legal action.
"The loss of these samples was an unfortunate mistake," the university said in a statement. "They were thrown away in error because they were in an unmarked bag. Lessons have been learned and protocols improved to ensure this cannot happen again."
The statement added that Bennett was due to graduate this year - "subject to minor corrections to his thesis unrelated to the loss of the materials".
Last edited by abdullahcohn (Sat 07 Feb 09 12:33pm)
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Re: You threw away my sh!t!
isn't that always how it goes? one person's life's work is another persons bag of lizard poo!