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A batshit experiment: bones cooked in bat poo lift the lid on how archaeological sites are formed

By Conor McAdams, Ph.D. candidate, University of Wollongong
Mike W Morley, Associate professor, Flinders University
Richard 'Bert' Roberts, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), University of Wollongong
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Many caves are filled with sediments containing the excrement of birds and bats. This forms phosphate-enriched deposits known as guano — essentially, piles of ancient poo.

At Con Moong Cave in northern Vietnam, we wanted to discover more about the first modern humans (Homo sapiens) to arrive in Southeast Asia. The cave was full of surprises, including a thick layer of soaking wet guano.

We designed a laboratory experiment to…

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