A student who spent seven years collecting lizard excrement for his PhD thesis is suing his university after it was thrown away.
Daniel Bennett is taking legal action against Leeds University following the blunder which led to 5st 7lb of lizard poo being incinerated.
He had collected the samples from remote areas of the Philippines as part of an investigation into the rare Butaan lizard.
Mr Bennett spent five years investigating their diet, population size and behaviour by sifting through excrement found on the jungle floor.
He then won a scholarship at Leeds where he was paid to analyse more samples at the university’s faculty of biological sciences.
But two years into his PhD he returned from fieldwork to find his collection had been “accidentally” thrown away by technicians clearing space in a laboratory.
“By the beginning of the third year of my PhD, I knew more about lizard faeces than I had ever thought possible,” said Mr Bennett.
“Returning to Leeds from fieldwork, I was surprised to find my desk space occupied by another student and to see that photographs of my daughter, my girlfriend and my favourite lizards had been removed from the wall.
“My personal effects had been carefully stowed in boxes, but there was no sign of my 35kg bag of lizard s***.”
A Leeds University spokesman said the loss was an “unfortunate mistake” and “lessons had been learnt”. The completion of Mr Bennett’s PhD thesis had been unaffected.
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