Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: FAQ: Ancient fecal material, coprolite  (Read 20659 times)

Chris Johnson

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1069
  • Trying to give a fig but would settle for $100,000
FAQ: Ancient fecal material, coprolite
« on: December 10, 2010, 02:22:08 PM »

or otherwise known as fossilized remains (sp) of stools.

Did TIGHAR find some? and if so (i seem to remember they were cross infected with recent DNA) money not with standing has it been considered to re - hydrate the sample to test the contents?
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 02:31:40 PM by Chris Johnson »
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 5318
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: coprolite
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 02:01:00 PM »

In 2007 we collected what looked like small chunks of brown dirt - but there's no real dirt at the Seven Site - just coral rubble.  We wondered if it might be dried fecal material (not true coprolite because it's not fossilized). A lab in Canada extracted DNA but it turned out to be my DNA - contamination from touching it without gloves before we realized what it might be. We still didn;t know whether it was really fecal matter so we referred to it as the "Putative Poop" until just recently when the Molecular Anthropology Laboratories at the University of Oklahoma found a type of bacteria present that is generally only found in feces. So the poop is no longer putative.  It's poop.  Whether DNA can be extracted remains to be seen.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 5318
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: coprolite
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2010, 05:32:45 PM »

I have read that you can re hydrate samples and look at what the last meal may have been. Reef fish, tinned mutton or sea bird.  Apparently when re hydrated it becomes almost 'fresh' (including any oders).

If this stuff could be re-hydrated it seems like it surely would have been in 70-plus years of rain squalls.  The poop is in good hands (so to speak) right now at the Molecular Anthropology Laboratories.  They know that we want to know whatever we can learn about what the pooper was eating and any indication of health problems (i.e blood in the stool).

Just out of interest what are the teams toileting arrangements when on the island?  As with the pencil this could be a recent addition the the site.

As with the brush clearing, each trip has been more controlled.  On the 2010 trip we had an established latrine, complete with toilet seat, at a location well removed from the site.
Logged

Andrew M McKenna

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 635
  • Here I am during the Maid of Harlech Survey.
Re: coprolite
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2010, 05:59:34 PM »

Quote
As with the brush clearing, each trip has been more controlled.  On the 2010 trip we had an established latrine, complete with toilet seat, at a location well removed from the site.

That said, most of the Team members figured out how to "go" on the Naia before / after our day's work.  I don't think the latrine got much use this past trip, and on prior trips team members would have been disposed to travel some distance away from the site we were working if they had the need.  Is it possible the coprolite came from TIGHAR?  Yes, but I don't think it is likely.  
« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 06:52:25 PM by moleski »
Logged

Monty Fowler

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1078
  • "The real answer is always the right answer."
Re: coprolite
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2010, 02:30:27 PM »

And only TIGHAR would be thoughtful enough to put out "poop grams," in full color, no less.  ;D God, I love archaeology.
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 5318
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: coprolite
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2010, 06:07:23 AM »

Right now the poop is actually more promising than the bones in possibly yielding DNA.  You might say that the Putative Poop has become the Promising Poop (but, of course, I would never say that).
Logged

Monty Fowler

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1078
  • "The real answer is always the right answer."
Re: coprolite
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2010, 10:44:54 AM »

*as he sits in his snowbound office formulating an appropriate response ...*
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
Logged

Ken Vincent

  • T1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Ancient fecal material
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2011, 05:52:07 AM »

I read the update last night on the bone fragments and apparent fecal material found during the 2010 trip to Niku.  Very interesting stuff.  One question immediately came to mind however.  Is there any indication in how or where this material collected that would indicate it was left by the castaways, and not by others?   I seem to recall that after finding the 13 bones and sextant box Gallagher sent a group to search for more items.  Is it possible this material was left by them?

Modified by MXM to insert a link into the post.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 07:05:44 AM by moleski »
Logged

Ken Vincent

  • T1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Ancient fecal material
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 11:08:10 AM »

There are a lot of interesting inferences to be made from the 'scat report'.  You might say that it is fertile ground for speculation, though i would never say that.  :)

If this is the poop of our intrepid aviators and if it does contain the DNA of two individuals; then one must assume that both AE and FN made it to the 7 site.  I think that it is also safe to assume that they BOTH lived there for some time.  I think it unlikely that they would have set up a even a make-shift latrine while they still had hope of quick rescue.  Without some form of a latrine i think that it is quite unlikely that they would have defecated in the same place.   So it sounds to me that if it is their poop, they both lived there long enough to devise at least a simple latrine.   Not to over speculate, but if the above assumptions are correct then it greatly increases the chances that the remains of FN are/where somewhere near the 7 site.
Logged

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2901
Re: Ancient fecal material
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2011, 01:30:12 PM »

There was some thought that this may be the fecal remains from the decaying body but I can't find the quote.

There isn't just one quote to that effect; it's an idea that got kicked around for a while.

From the old Forum:

Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2008 12:28:05
From: Ric Gillespie
Subject: More on DNA from Ric

The organic material from which human DNA has been extracted appears to have been contents of the intestinal tract, but we don't know whether it was still in the intestine at the time of death or had previously been excreted. Obviously, if the latter, it could have been left behind by anyone who felt the call of nature while at the Seven Site. If the former, it was almost certainly in the castaway who died at the site and was left behind when first the crabs, and then Gallagher, removed the bones.

There is reason to suspect that the material, whether excreted or not, did come from the castaway. The human DNA that has been extracted came from the INTERIOR of the sample. Normally, only the EXTERIOR surface of material in the intestinal track would be expected to contain the person's DNA. The interior, logically, would contain only the DNA of whatever the person had been eating. One would not expect that to include other people (don't even go there). In this case, however, the scientists noticed distinctive rust-colored deposits in the interior of the sample. SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) analysis showed these deposits to be very rich in iron. This was good news and bad news.

The good news was that the presence of iron suggested that the deposits had once been pockets of blood. Blood in the sample would be evidence of a very sick person (such as, perhaps, the castaway who died there?) and might provide DNA. The bad news was that iron is an inhibitor that makes it really difficult to extract DNA.

Now that human DNA has been found in the interior of the sample, the challenge is to get enough of it ( at least two separate examples) so that it can be reliably "sequenced." Sequencing is what gives us the profile so that we can start to figure out who this person was. For example, there are particular characteristics ("markers") that are typical of Micronesian/Polynesian ethnic groups. If those markers are present, it would reduce the probability that the material came from a Caucasian. Only after we have cleared the possibly disqualifying bars will we be ready to ask for samples of Earhart and Noonan DNA for possible matching.

The inhibiting properties of the iron are formidable and the lab is still struggling to extract sufficient mtDNA for reliable sequencing, but they do expect to be successful. It's just taking longer than they thought it would. They're also still trying to extract nuclear DNA - a much more difficult task in such an old and degraded sample - but nuclear DNA might tell us whether the person was male or female.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
Logged

Ken Vincent

  • T1
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Ancient fecal material
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2011, 03:05:10 PM »

If you look at the other thread you will see that this is not the case as Ric explains

"In 2007 we collected what looked like small chunks of brown dirt - but there's no real dirt at the Seven Site - just coral rubble.  We wondered if it might be dried fecal material (not true coprolite because it's not fossilized). A lab in Canada extracted DNA but it turned out to be my DNA - contamination from touching it without gloves before we realized what it might be."

There was some thought that this may be the fecal remains from the decaying body but I can't find the quote.

I don't think we are talking about quite the same report on DNA.  I am referring to this passage:

Quote
The University of Oklahoma Molecular Anthropology Laboratories were successful in detecting human mitochondrial DNA in the material. Unlike the bone fragment, the presence of human DNA in the clumps is unambiguous. DNA from two individuals was detected but, to date, the amount extracted is not sufficient for comparison to reference samples. More sophisticated testing is now under way in the hope of learning more.

from yesterday's bulletin titled "DNA Research Continues
http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Research/Bulletins/59_DNAResearch/59_DNAResearch.htm

It sounds to me like that refers to DNA found within the "ancient fecal material" that has not been able to be matched to Ric's or any other reference sample, at least so far.
Logged

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2901
Re: Ancient fecal material
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2011, 04:20:43 PM »

As far as I am aware only one sample was collected and that was contaminated with Ric's DNA .

I guess it depends on what you mean by "one sample."  The material is in chunks:

LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
Logged

Andrew M McKenna

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 635
  • Here I am during the Maid of Harlech Survey.
Re: Ancient fecal material
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2011, 08:32:50 PM »

We collected "fecal" material during both the 2007 and 2010 expeditions.  The 2007 sample, which was not collected with sterile protocols, had what appeared to be Ric's DNA in it.  I think it is the 2010 sample that has recently been tested that has the two different human DNA traces in it.  Ric could set me straight on this.

So, the 2007 sample was either Ric's poop, or contaminated by Ric's handling it excessively (lots of us handled it not knowing it was going to be tested).  Whether or not the 2010 sample has been matched with Ric's DNA remains to be seen, but the fact that it has what appears to be the human DNA from two persons is very interesting.  Either we have Ric's DNA and someone else, or even two unknown persons.  Will be interesting if any of the sequences matched the Earhart family sample we have.

amck
Logged

Andrew M McKenna

  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 635
  • Here I am during the Maid of Harlech Survey.
Re: Ancient fecal material
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2011, 08:49:01 AM »

Chris - I believe some of that analysis beyond DNA is going on right now, and there is a lot of discussion regarding the possibility of a latrine and origin of this material going on within EPAC.  As usual, the more we find out, the more questions we have.

Andrew
Logged

matt john barth

  • T1
  • *
  • Posts: 46
Re: FAQ: Ancient fecal material, coprolite
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2014, 10:09:15 AM »

This topic is interesting. I would find it strange that fred and amelia would use the exact same spot. You would think that there would be a woman's spot and a man's spot. Or possibly the material was collected respectively in that sort of arrangement.
Matthew J. Barth
 
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
 

Copyright 2018 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership formwebmaster@tighar.org

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.15 | SMF © 2017, Simple Machines Powered by PHP