Hold your dung

Otherwise, this could happen to you:

A British graduate student was left “reeling” after his university threw out a bag of lizard excrement he had spent seven years collecting in the rainforests of the Philippines.

Daniel Bennett had collected 35kg of faeces of the rare butaan lizard during field work abroad, as part of his PhD research at Leeds University in northern England.

But he was devastated on returning from the Philippines to find that the bag, which was unmarked, had been thrown out with the rubbish in a clear-out of his laboratory.

“To some people it might have been just a bag of lizard s—,” he told Times Higher Education, which ran the story under the headline “Oh crap, there goes my work”.

“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.

“Its loss left me reeling and altered the course of my life forever.”

A settlement has been offered and deemed inadequate:

The University has offered him £500 ($A1120) in compensation and an apology, after the student lodged an official complaint about the loss.

But Mr Bennett says this is not enough, and has vowed to “see them in court”.

(Via JammieWearingFool.)


  1. McGehee »

    8 February 2009 · 10:09 am

    A guy spends years engaged in (what he obviously considers) serious research, but the bag containing his prized specimens collected over the course of (did I mention) years of research is UNMARKED?

    He should take the 500 quid and the obviously much needed lesson in research protocols, and like it.

  2. CGHill »

    8 February 2009 · 10:27 am

    Some people have no sense of doody, I suppose.

  3. sya »

    8 February 2009 · 10:48 am

    It’s his own fault that his academic career went down the toilet. Isn’t one of the first things you learn in lab is to assiduously label everything you’ve worked on? (I know that the cow poop in our lab is definitely marked even though it’s quite easy to get more.)

  4. CGHill »

    8 February 2009 · 11:12 am

    I don’t think his career is in the crapper, exactly; he’s still on track for his PhD, with a couple minor changes to the thesis.

  5. Monday Evening »

    8 February 2009 · 3:35 pm

    Three links…

    Imagine if material you had collected for serious academic use were just thrown out one day. That’s what happened to this graduate student….

  6. fillyjonk »

    9 February 2009 · 7:09 am

    Not only do I mark everything in my lab (seeds, soil, frozen root samples) that could even remotely be considered “trash” by someone who is more anal-retentive about neatness than I, I also label the equipment that NEEDS to stay in the room, after having had my carefully-acquired and hoarded store of multicolored Sharpies that I was using to mark different days-of-germination pilfered.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people in research operate under the “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission” motto.

    But yeah. It’s just lab courtesy to ask before throwing ANYTHING, no matter how insignificant-looking, away. (I follow the protocol of not disposing of any material or data until after the paper has been successfully published.)

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