Seafloor sediment composed of ground up shells and coral also contains a significant amount of fish poop, according to new linkurl:research; published on February 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.This research shows that mineralization in fishes' intestines composes around 14 percent of carbonate mud in the shallow seas of the Bahamas, sediment that is subsequently transformed into the limestone geologists use to reconstruct earth's climate.
Crystallized carbonate from fish intestine under an electron microscope
Image: Chris Perry, Manchester Metropolitan University
"Compositions of sediments are used very widely for trying to deduce past climatic and environmental conditions," said linkurl:Chris Perry,; a sedimentologist at Manchester Metropolitan University and coauthor of the study. "This could completely change peoples' thinking perhaps about the kind of pathways by which mud is produced."Scientists have known that fish crystallize carbonates in their intestines and release them into the water, said linkurl:Robert Riding,; a...
Examples of fish crystal precipitatesPerry, C.T., et al, "Fish as major carbonate mud producers and missing components of the tropical carbonate factory," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: linkurl:10.1073/pnas.1015895108;

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?