Copenhagen city square built on poop

Being an archaeologist can be a tough job–hot weather, frustrating digs that don’t turn up any finds, dirty conditions. . .especially the dirty conditions.

A dig in the Danish capital Copenhagen has turned out to be dirtier than usual. Archaeologists excavating under Kultorvet Square have found two 18th century outhouses that are literally filled with historic faeces.

Kultorvet means “Coal Square” and was where people bought and sold coal. Now it’s a popular meeting place full of cafes and restaurants, as shown in this photo courtesy Leif Jørgensen. These historic toilets would have been used by coal vendors and buyers, mostly working class people. The privies seem to have been popular because both are heaped with the stinky stuff, and the local soil’s low oxygen levels have preserved it in a pristine state.

Wading through offal is good news for archaeologists. Old turds can tell a lot about the people who dropped them, like their diet and general health. One slow-witted Dane from days gone by even ate an apple core. It was found encased in his poop, having passed through his system whole after probably causing some indigestion.

A large subway expansion project has led to lots of archaeological finds in Copenhagen. If any more disgusting discoveries turn up, we’ll be sure to let you know.

SkyMall Monday: You Go Girl!

Going to the bathroom on planes is never pleasant. In fact, doing your business anywhere in public can be nerve-wracking. Many public restrooms smell unpleasant and are filthy. Beyond that, there’s the embarrassment caused by the sounds emanating from our behinds and the ensuing odors created by the gastrointestinal festivities. There’s nothing more awkward than emerging from the stall after a particularly loud and aromatic session to find people at the sinks visibly traumatized by the experience. That’s why we only go number two at SkyMall Monday headquarters. We have a soundproof bathroom built two miles below ground inside a mountain. For those of you who didn’t have your facilities designed by a military contractor, SkyMall has just what you need to keep your bathroom business from becoming a public fiasco. The next time you have to use a public restroom to evacuate your bowels, be sure to bring along some You Go Girl!For those of you who think that women neither pass gas nor defecate, it’s time to grow up. All manner of things come out of women’s bodies and some of those events are more odoriferous than others. Unlike men, women do not celebrate the size, shape and pungency of their fecal trophies. In fact, women feel great shame when their number two is loud and noxious. That’s why they need a concealer.

Think that noises made by bodily functions are normal and healthy? Believe that we’re all mature enough to handle naturally occurring events without embarrassment? Well, while you suffocate in a port-o-potty, we’ll be reading the product description:

Reduce bathroom anxiety on airplanes, restaurants or at work with You Go Girl. Just pour a packet into the toilet before use to mask embarrassing odors, dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Biodegradable, phosphate-free formula is safe to flush, and each packet is small enough to carry discreetly in your purse, day bag or pocket, so you can feel confident taking care of business away from home.

Toilet splash is the 84th leading killer of women in public restrooms*. Eliminating this damp scourge is worth the $12.85 for a 10-pack.

Like you, I was baffled by how such a product could not only eliminate odor, but also dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Thankfully, the company has produced an informational video. Even more thankfully, that video utilizes computer animation. I trust that you will see the brilliance of You Go Girl! Of course, men do not need this product. Our farts sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd and smell like fresh baked apple pie.

* Maybe.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Name That Poop! Test your animal tracking skills

So, you think you’re a decent animal tracker? Well, then you must know a lot about a certain off-color subject: poop.

Sorry to get scatological, and I hope you’re not eating, but let’s put your excrement identification skills to the test with a little Friday diversion: Name That Poop. Check out the pics below and their descriptions. The answer key is at the bottom, and the animals are spelled backwards to keep you from accidentally cheating.

Here’s your hint: these were all taken in Zambia in South Luangwa National Park. Good luck!Exhibit A:

Small, dark brown pellets.

Exhibit B:

Again, these are small, dark brown pellets, but this animal uses their dung to mark their territory. The entire pack will “go” in the same place, resulting in a large pile like this.

Exhibit C:

Wrinkly poop.

Exhibit D:

One of my safari guides jokingly referred to this mystery animal’s dung as “muffins.”

Exhibit E:

Here’s another hint: you can tell this poop came from either a carnivore or an omnivore. How? That white powdery color comes from ground up bones.

Exhibit F:

This extra white poop comes from an animal who clearly eats a lot of bones.

Exhibit G:

This animal actually beats his/her own poop into the ground with his/her tail. A local legend says that it’s to prove to God that he/she hasn’t been eating any fish. The story goes: the animal felt there were too many animals on land and asked God’s permission to live in the water. God said “You are too big, you’ll eat all my fish.” The animal swore he/she wouldn’t, and to this day he/she spreads out his/her own dung on the ground to show God there are no fishbones.

Answer Key:
A. Ukup
B. Alapmi
C. Olaffub
D. Elephant
E. Noil
F. Aneyh
G. Oppih

How did you do? Tell us below!

[Photos by Annie Scott.]

This trip was sponsored by Abercrombie & Kent and Sanctuary Retreats, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own. In fact, I bet this is probably not what they expected me to write.

SkyMall Monday: Pooch Power Shovel

You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog owner who truly enjoys picking up their pet’s poop (unless their into scat films, in which case you’d be wise to give them a wide berth). Scooping poop is demoralizing, tedious and, if done sloppily, unhygienic. One slip up and that poop goes from to the ground to your finger, to your bagel, to your lips, to your wife’s lips to the FedEx guy’s…well, you get the point. It’s a roll of the E. coli dice every time you go to fetch that feces. Plus, all that bending over and the condescending looks from your dog make you feel like a Grade A nimrod. Who wants to deal with that? As a dog owner, I know that picking up poop takes up to 45 seconds of my life everyday. Between bending down, picking it up, tying the bag and then placing the bag in the trash bin, I lose the opportunity to watch one-and-a-half television commercials. How will I know what to buy? That’s why here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we’ve stopped bending over and dealing with crap. We’ve once again turned to SkyMall to make out lives less, well, crappy. Literally. That’s why we use the Pooch Power Shovel.As you can see from the video above, the Pooch Power Shovel does everything that your hand can do but louder and for more money. In that respect, it’s like a chatty hooker. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can learn a lot from a chatty hooker. No longer will you have to bend over like some, um, hooker while picking up your dog’s business. You can just suck it all up like a, er, hooker. Maybe we should just read the product description:

There’s no bending, scooping or even touching. In fact, with the push-button convenience of the Pooch Power Shovel, it’s the next best thing to having someone else do the picking up for you…It doesn’t matter if you own a single Chihuahua or multiple large breed canines, the robust motor and rechargeable battery can pick up a whole yard’s worth of waste in one go.

Now, if you could get someone to do the poop scooping for you, that would be a perfect storm. Is it worth mentioning that it’s really more of a vacuum (or reverse leaf blower) than a shovel? Probably not. What about how it’s creepy when you dress kids exactly like their parents? No, we’ll gloss over that, as well. Should we discuss that kids who wear those dress shirts with white collars look like miniature Gordon Gekkos (and that’s not a good thing). Let’s just robustly move on then.

If you want to continue to pick up your dog’s poop by hand, go for it. I, however, believe that the best things in life are worth paying for. That’s why politicians and athletes love, hm, hookers. You get my point. Now get the Pooch Power Vacuum Shovel.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

1,000 year-old turd goes on display

The Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery has a truly crappy new exhibition.

A 1,000 year-old piece of feces has people lining up to visit the English museum. It was originally found in 1991 and dates to Anglo-Saxon times. When it was recently put on display, curators were surprised at its popularity and now plan to make it part of its permanent display.

The turd has mineralized and has no smell. Mineralized crap, scientifically known as coprolites, are actually not that rare. Dinosaur coprolites are found quite frequently, like the one pictured here from Canada. For a time in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, coprolites were even mined for their high phosphate content. Human coprolites are less common and are important for what they can reveal about ancient diet and parasites.

The Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary. It traces local history from the age of the dinosaurs up to the present day. Artifacts include a beautifully preserved Celtic mirror, a Roman city wall, and a medieval backgammon game that is the world’s oldest complete set.

Photo courtesy United States Geological Survey.