Northeastern Section–41st Annual Meeting (20–22 March 2006)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:05 PM


LIMPITLAW, Ulli G., Earth Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Campus Box 100, Greeley, CO 80639,

Geophagy, the practice of eating earthy and non-food materials, is a phenomenon observed in humans and animals. With the emergence of medical geology it has been receiving more attention. Stamped and sealed earths called Terra Sigillata were used in medicine dating back to BC. Animals will go to any length to get to their lick, where they are mining clay and consuming it.

Clays are the most frequent minerals ingested but additional earth materials, such as loess, coal, and chalk among others, fall into this category as well.

Geophagy has been called everything from compulsive-obsessive behavior to eating of substances, which supply nutrients lacking in the diet. This overview of historic and present ‘dirt eating' will also discuss regions of geophagy as well as people and animals exhibiting this habit.