As regular readers of this blog are probably aware, I have a fondness for rocks. The subject of today’s lecture is the uncanny resemblance between a rock I came across today and a sun-baked burro turd that was nearby.

It was with some trepidation that I examined the more elongated of the two gray objects in the photo above. (The sunglasses were not found with the others. They were found on a rack in front of a drugstore in Germany. They are provided for scale only.) While prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight is known to sterilize E. coli bacteria, there is something about handling a turd that gives one pause all the same. Once I overcame my initial reluctance, whatever qualms I may have had were immediately put to rest by the reassuring heft of the “object.” While the desiccated burro turd was feathery light, the elongated object of questionable origin weighed a good half pound. Clearly, I was dealing with a rock.

But what story did this rock have to tell? In all my years of scanning the earth for unusual rocks, I have never encountered such a rock. Judging by shape and size, this rock looks like something one might see floating in a Porta-Potti or stumble across in the bushes bordering a roadside pullout.

A petrified human turd? How could that be? Petrification, the process whereby once-living things are replaced by minerals to form stone, takes many thousands of years. Archeologists insist humans have inhabited the Americas for at most 20,000 years making that scenario unlikely. Another curious observation is the absence of any similar rocks in the wash where this one was found.

Well, it’s a real head scratcher for me. But don’t be surprised if in the near future you hear at the tail end the NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams one of those trivial filler stories about “Petrified turd pushes back human arrival in New World by 50,000 years.”