Copropalynology

The term copropalynology is derived from the Greek word Kopros meaning dung, indicating the study of pollen and spores present in dung. It is one of the applied branches of palynology in which droppings (excrements) of various animals such as sheep, goats, kangaroos, giraffes, elephants, horses, bats, etc., are analyzed palynologically which provide interesting insights into their feeding habits. In literature, there is a classical example in this connection with regard to pollen analysis of bat droppings. Samples from limestone caves near Harir in Northern Iraq have shown that the excrements of bats inhabiting these caves contain a significant number of pollen grains. This is concerned with the bats, which eat moths, which visit flowers at night to suck nectar. Bats roost from the roofs of caves, hence their excrement falls on the floor and piles up in the course of hundreds of thousands of years into a thick layer of guano. In this substance, accumulating continuously like a type of peat, are pollen grains, spores and also wing scales of moths. Thus, the copropalynological analysis of guano can reveal the history of entomophilous plants of the district by studying the pollen grains that lodge on or in insects, which in their turn have passed through the bat's digestive tracts. French palynologists restrict the term 'copropalynology' to the study of pollen and spores in fossilized dung, and the term with 'actuopalynology' for contemporary studies.

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