A week of new words - 6. coprostanol

Faecal matters

I'd never heard of
Coprostanol till Thursday.
I guess shit happens.


Coprostanol is a by-product of the digestion of cholesterol in the human gut, and can be identified in Holocene sediments.  A study of a lake succession in the Lofoten Islands, northern Norway, showed that the appearance of coprostanol there coincided with an increase in pyrolytic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and a change in leaf wax alkane chain lengths.  This enabled the researchers to interpret that the arrival of humans led to an increase in fires and a reduction in woodland.

The lakes of Lofoten: a beautiful place to do shit research.

The study is particularly interesting as it shows that coprostanol can be used to distinguish between natural and anthropogenic environmental change.  It could also demonstrate the presence of humans in areas where evidence is otherwise lacking.

"Good things can come from the most unexpected places," said project lead author Robert D'Anjou.  It also shows that where there's muck, there's brass.


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