In a first for paleontology, scientists have found hundreds of tiny, fossilized fecal pellets crammed inside a fish braincase dating to about 9 million years ago. The wee fossil poops, also known as coprolites, were deposited by scavengers — probably worms — that devoured the fish’s decaying head, including its brain.

As they munched the flesh from the skull, the worms pooped out chains and clusters of oval coprolite beads, each measuring about 0.1 inches (2.5 millimeters) long. Small as they were, those pellets added up over time. When the hungry scavengers were done, they had left behind hundreds of pellets — enough poop to fill the fish’s braincase entirely.


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