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Ancient dung heaps tell climate story

Scientists in Africa are now looking at rock rabbit dung heaps in Africa, some of which date back tens of thousands of years, as time capsules showing climate and vegetation information throughout the ages.

The Rock Hyrax, also known as the Rock Rabbit, superficially resembles a guinea pig with small ears and tail. Hyraxes are very social animals and can be commonly found in large groups basking in the sun at the top of the mountain. And, theyre a bit of a tourist attraction. The furry little animal is actually a distant relative of the elephant and the manatee.

But it is the fossilized excrement of the rock rabbit that has researchers excited. And theyre found high in sheltered rock formations, protected from sun and rain. Some of their dung heaps, known as middens, are over 40,000 years old.

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