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This Fossilized Turd Will Make You Glad You Weren't A Viking

Its creator "had very itchy bowels," according to science.

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Lloyds Bank Turd. It's one of the biggest pieces of ancient human shit ever found.

Linda Spashett / Via commons.wikimedia.org

"Blimey!" exclaimed Dr. Andrew "Bone" Jones when he discovered this particular poop in some old boxes of soil and rocks, "This must be the turd!" At least that's how he remembers it.

Jones, an archeologist at the Jorvik Viking Centre, had been on the hunt for this specimen for some time. Since an archeological dig in 1972, there had been rumors of the discovery of a large and intact piece of ancient human feces, but no such item had been cataloged.

When he saw the now-famous turd, he knew it was definitely what he was looking for.

Scientists determined that the creator of this hefty specimen was a Viking that lived around the 9th century A.D.

NordNordWest / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Archeologists uncovered it in what is now the English city of York amongst the remains of many other Viking artifacts.

Full of bits of grain and parasites, this thing (large as it may be) unquestionably came from the digestive system of a human being.

It's also quite clearly old. Much of the fecal material has been mineralized — one of the processes that forms fossils.

This prodigious dump tells us a lot about the unlucky Viking who produced it.

Herr Hans Gruber / Via Flickr: 45025094@N00

When its contents were examined, the lumpy rock preserved a plethora whipworm and mawworm eggs — parasitic nematodes known to cause stomach aches, diarrhea and inflammation of the bowel. Scientists find it likely that such problems were widespread amongst this Viking community.

In a 1991 Wall Street Journal article* about the historic turd discovery, Jones said "The bottom line is that people tolerated what would seem to us incomprehensible squalor. Time and again, you get a very strong picture of filth."

*Horwitz, Tony. Endangered Feces: Paleo-Scatologist Plumbs Old Privies — It May Not Be the Lost Ark, But Then, Andrew Isn't Exactly Indiana Jones. Wall Street Journal September 1991. Print (not available online).

The precious poo also tells us a lot about what this Viking's diet was like.

Alex Kasprak for BuzzFeed / Via Thinkstock

According to Gill Snape, one of the people tasked with reconstructing the specimen after it broke apart in 2003, this Viking "was not a great vegetable eater." Instead, she said, the defecator's diet consisted almost exclusively of meat and grain, despite there being evidence for the availability fruit and nuts from the same site.

  1. Time for a poop quiz!

    Comedy Central / Via southparkstudios.mtvnimages.com
    About 10 inches long
    About 8 inches long
    About 5 inches long
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Oh shit!

    The correct answer is about 8 inches long! Its dimensions are 2.2 inches by 1.1 inches by 7.7 inches.

    Oh shit!
    Comedy Central / Via vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net

This Fossilized Turd Will Make You Glad You Weren't A Viking

Science Writer, Fossil Beastmaster

Contact Alex Kasprak at alex.kasprak@buzzfeed.com.

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