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Who woulda thunk it?

Lately I’ve spent a few hours here and there learning to cut and
polish cabs. Reason I don’t like the shapes of the stones I want to
put in my jewelry. I learned something interesting about a stone I
use quite frequently. Not all of this stone are created equal. In
Mother Nature’s time scale, there are rocks that just need to
age/cook longer. Case in point coprolite. Being at least 65 million
years old, you would think it had time to fully convert to a hard
substance. Today while roughing out the cab, a couple of small
deposits on the stone turned to a muddy substance like it was fresh.
I was saddened. I really really liked the pattern of this shit.

Now I have a question for all of you. How do we know if cabbing
material is hard enough? It was while it was both wet with water, wet
with mineral oil, and especially while dry. I could not scratch it
with an aluminium nail. Cutting and polishing is something I’m new
to. I know the stones, I’ve had others cut them for me, but now it is
me literally behind the wheel. I like my dino shit well aged and
hard. what should I look for? Is there any one or several good points
to look for? How do I make my shit shine?

Aggie, knowing the chocolate remedy will not work on this problem

Coprolite is tree resin, not a mineral/stone/rock. Therefore it is
softand will still have soft parts in it. Amber is also tree resin,
but has had time to harden a bit more, however, it can still have
soft parts (insects, etc) in it. Cabbing is fun and I have been doing
it for a little while. I prefer to cut my own stones. The way for you
to know the properties of the various gems is to study them. If you
check out www,.af ms. org (American Federation of Mineral Societies),
you can go to the regional Federations and then locate a Gem/Mineral
Society near you. Most of these societies have folk who could help
you learn about cabbing rough and the properties of the stones. Of
course, I am assuming that you are in the US.


Dear Agnes, interesting thoughts. Maybe because the dino has a
various diet, things reacted diffently in those 65,000 years. Like
mucus maybe from a cold, or some such theory. My second comment is
that each stone has it’s strengths and weaknesses that only practice
will tell you what to look for. Keep up the good work, blessings on
the new year. respectfully pat

Hi, I believe you are thinking of copal, not coprolite.

Aggie, it’s me again, John Barton, the Indian in Texas. First,
your’e a hoot girl :slight_smile: you must originally be from Texas, a girl
after my own heart (remember I’m 76 yrs old :-)) I didn’t know you
liked dino bone/coprolite. I’ve cut a lot of dino bone but no
coprolite, so haven’t run into the problem you mentioned. I’m
interested though. I just downloaded a photo of some coprolite from
southern Utah day before yesterday (attached). I plan on getting
some coprolite from my supplier, so would be interested in what
you=15 discover about this issue. The only thing I can think of was
that maybe you=15 struck some relatively newer? matrix. Do you cut
dino bone as well as coprolite ? Let me know or post whatever you
find out what this was please, John

Coprolite is tree resin 

You’re probably thinking of copal. Coprolite is fossilized dung, as
Agnes said.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

I believe you are thinking of copal, not coprolite. 

Very true. Coprolite is animal excrement that has turned to stone.
It is a bit difficult to prove which animal did what, although the
big ones are supposedly dinosaur poop. Utah has some beautiful
coprolites that occur in masses a bit bigger than your fist. They can
have some lovely jasper colors in them. Especially striking are the
coral and scarlet colors in them.

One year the northern Utah folk brought a gunny sack of them for the
NFMS show when we were hosting the American Federation of Mineralogy
Societies. The northwesterners took one look and decided they were
some sort of a cruddy thunder egg that hadn’t quite made it.

But the Southeastern folks knew just exactly what they were looking
at and raised the bidding way up.

Rose Alene in Central Idaho, where it finally turned cold

I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of myself for giggling
over our now having a thread on “turd polishing.”

Coprolite is tree resin, not a mineral/stone/rock. 

Isn’t a coprolite a fossilised dino turd? CIA

Hi Agnes,

In the ‘weird but true’ folder, they’ve discovered that the soft
structures in the interior (like blood vessels) of some 65MYO dino
bones will still still. not exactly rehydrate, but regain plasticity
when properly rehydrated. Weird, but there you go. So
not-entirely-solidified dino crap isn’t that much of a stretch. (As
has been noted, insomnia and the discovery channel are a dangerous
combo.) Smithsonan article here:


Coprolite is tree resin, not a mineral/stone/rock. 

Uh John
Coprolite IS DEFINITELY NOT A TREE RESIN- it’s a phosphorite dung
that has hardened. usually dinosaur or so dealers would like you to
believe…, you may be thinking of Copal. which is a tree resin, and
amber is very soft, the insect inside is probably harder than the
resin covering it. Perhaps a quick check on a site like
that lists thousands of gem and mineral ID’s may be a good approach

Agnes, when it comes to the mineral hardness of coprolite, I think
you’re at the mercy of dino species (equals a varied dino diet), what
soil it landed in, subsequent metamorphosis, what mineral replaced
what, etc. Coprolite is not a resin, as a previous reply suggested.

I have found that, when cabbing most materials, one should expect a
change in hardness (and thus undercutting, etc) whenever there is a
color change.

Ask me about my favorite piece of Munjina from Australia! I worked
for hours to polish that little jasper! (Yes, a pun. A bad pun.)

Those lovely color changes (think Crown of Silver psilomelane) are
often the areas that the grinding wheels will catch, drag, and
splinter. So when I have doubts about a much-loved but rascally,
unfaithful stone, I start on the finer-grit wheels and work there –
even for the initial shaping. Of course this can add hours to the
work time. Fortunately I do stones chiefly for love.

Another point to remember is that you’re not just grinding with
whatever grit your wheel is charged with. Unless you have a copious
water supply continually flushing your grinding surface (such as the
CabKing cabber uses) you’re also grinding the stone with whatever
grit is in the swarf from the part of the stone you ground 10 or 5 or
1 second ago. So if you use a flat lap, copious water plus stopping
for a periodic flushing is good.

You can also ‘stabilize’ the material first with any number of
glue-like products (as with flowering tube onyx), but of course you
should disclose that to whomever buys what you sell. Sometimes it’s
necessary to stop work and stabilize again (think plume agates) and
maybe even a 3rd time, until final polish.

Best, Lorraine

Is there any one or several good points to look for? How do I make
my shitshine? 

I guess the dinosaur got the last laugh on you! Maybe you should
look intodino bone. It comes in all manner of patterns and colors,
it’s VERY hard, and won’t turn to shit on your wheel.

we now return you to your previously scheduled email…

Todd Welti


I’m afraid I must correct you here. Coprolite is fossilized
excrement. (From the Greek “kopros”=dung) American Heritage
Dictionary. I think you had another word in mind.

Gary Strickland, GJG

Coprolite is tree resin 

I’m afraid you have confused dino poop with “copal amber” (which in
itself is a misnomer, as it can’t be amber till it has a few million
years behind it).

 interesting thoughts. Maybe because the dino has a various diet,
things reacted diffently in those 65,000 years. Like mucus maybe
from a cold, or some such theory. My second comment is that each
stone has it's strengths and weaknesses that only practice will
tell you what to look for 

Hi Agnes, are you working with chunks or slabs? Dino poop is almost
always on eBay in slab form, which will allow you to buy patterns
that are close to what you are looking for, and you can e-mail your
seller and ask them up front whether there are soft spots, fractures,
etc. Most sellers will be honest enough for you to get the product
you want, and will also explain what kind of polish they get on the
rock in question. It is not an expensive material (even when at it’s
best), and those of us that sell stone have a liberal return policy.
I probably have some in that mess I call a slab shop, but none
slabbed up, that I know of, or I would send you some to play with for
free. Keep playing, and you will have enough successes soon, that you
can begin to incorporate into your jewelry. Being able to control the
shapes of your stone allows for an amazing feeling of completion in
the whole process.

I have purchased numerous pieces of coprolite, and three different
sellers referred to it as dino poop. How can it be a tree resin?
respectfully pat

Guess I haven’t cut any stones lately; I was told coprolite was
fossilized dinosaur dung. :slight_smile:

Hi Ya’ll,

First I do know my shit! It all started back in High School when I
did a research paper on crystals (not meta physical stuff) I got
caught up in it all and wrote with drawings added over 300 pages.
Fast forward a year or two and taking many geology classes out west
at a University level. Then I worked and lived in the south west
where I began a love affair with turquoise. Got so good I could tell
you which mine it came from by first sight. Rock hounded over the
next couple of decades, then took all the classes on gemmology at
Revere. Spurred me on to take some GIA classes.

Never finished getting a G. G.

As for where I get my shit? I have a good friend in Nephi Utah that
has a lot of both coprolite and dino bone. I get first crack at
things when he finds some very interesting colors, before he places
slabs on ebay.

Another person lives in Boulder Utah over Hell’s Backbone. I visit
him in person to get the pick of his droppings. Lastly when I have
time before and after preformances at USF, I go on the hunt for good
shit. PS I also have lots of 5 gallon buckets of dino bone.

How to collect shit? First it helps to know your basic material
compositions. (that is why the soft white spots threw me.) It helps
to know the basic shape of shit. Next to know how shit was dropped.
And where the dinosaurs roamed. When you see dinosaur tracks left in
rocks, you can bet that in the near vacinity there will be some good
shit. There is your basic plop pile. Those tend to be rather big. If
you are in So Utah, be careful of rocks that are not red and seem to
look like a Dairy Queen cone piled up high. Lacking the curl on top
those piles can reach as high as your shoulder. Those I never felt
the need to carry out of the area. Next is the raisinette theory of
collecting. Like rabbits, Dinosaurs produced leavings in the same
quanity and shape, just in the McDonald’s super sized variety. When
these piles are encountered they come in mass quantities. One old
rock hound’s guide is to break the rock open and look for the read
streaks. Most not all dino poo contained red streaks or at least
speckles. Maybe it was a southwest thing and again the red hot diet
they consumed.

I thank all of you who have told me a reasonable why the soft spots.
As much as I loathe stabilizing things, I have found some stones that
you just want to keep for yourself. The stones I’m talking about in
the first post that are in question, are small little pieces that
long ago were given to me for buying larger slabs and whole rocks.
They were unique. I know my rocks, I’ve collected them in the field,
but now it is me cutting them.

I’m doing this because even letting friends cut the rocks for me,
they would usually not follow my directions, and cut shapes they felt
were better than what I wanted. Now I’m responsible for my own shit
and to set it in my own jewelry.

Aggie the dung diva