Student loses love and lizard leftovers in Leeds
Saturday 07 February 2009
A University has been forced to apologise to one of its graduate students after it accidentally threw away a bag of rare lizard excrement which had taken him five years to collect.
Daniel Bennett had been in the Philippines studying the rare butaan lizard, a close relative of the komodo dragon, as part of his PhD at Leeds University. Over half a decade he bagged and sent home 35kg of the reptile's faeces, which he thought was being held safely by his department.
However, he was horrified to learn that the precious collection of dung had been thrown out by the university during a routine lab clearout.
Mr Bennett, who was still able to complete his doctorate, wrote in The Times Higher Education: "To some people it might have been just a bag of lizard shit, but to me it represented seven years of painstaking work, searching the rainforest with a team of reformed poachers to find the faeces of one of the world's largest, rarest and most mysterious lizards.
"Whether it was the largest collection of lizard shit in the world is uncertain, but it certainly contained the only dietary sample from that little-known species ... Its loss left me reeling and altered the course of my life forever."
Collecting the dung was the simplest way for Mr Bennett to study the lizard's eating habits, since it was known to be extremely reclusive. The rare reptile was long thought extinct.
The student has rejected the university's offer of £500 in compensation for his lost work, and said he intends to "see them in court." To make matters worse, the day after he received their letter, his girlfriend of 10 years left him. Mr Bennett wrote: "People are rarely at their happiest when writing a thesis, but I needed a waterproof keyboard to finish mine."
Leeds University said: "We are unaware of any legal action. The loss of these samples was an unfortunate mistake. They were thrown away in error because they were in an unmarked bag.
"Lessons have been learned and protocols improved to ensure this cannot happen again. Mr Bennett is due to graduate with his PhD this year, subject to minor corrections to his thesis unrelated to the loss of the materials."
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...