On Campus

Student sues over loss of lizard dung

PhD student loses one-of-a-kind collection and his girlfriend, too

In this Times Higher Education piece, titled No shit: how I lost my one-of-a-kind collection and my girlfriend, too, PhD student Daniel Bennett describes his horror at discovering that his university had thrown out his unique collection of fecal samples from a rare lizard:

To some people it might have been just a bag of lizard shit, but to me it represented seven years of painstaking work searching the rainforest with a team of reformed poachers to find the faeces of one of the world’s largest, rarest and most mysterious lizards. I didn’t realise just how much my bag of lizard shit meant to me until it was “accidentally” incinerated at the University of Leeds early in the third year of my PhD.

Whether it was the largest collection of lizard shit in the world is uncertain, but 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. Its loss left me reeling and altered the course of my life for ever.

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