The term detritus, also mentioned as detritus, comes from the Latin word detrītus, which translates as “worn out”. The concept is used in medicine and geology to name the product resulting from the disintegration of solid matter into particles.

In general, the notion of detritus is used, in the plural. The adjective detrital is also frequently used, which alludes to that which is made up of detritus. See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to detritus.

In the specific field of geology, debris is the sediments of rocks that are generated by the action of diagenesis, weathering or erosion. These debris usually accumulate in sedimentary basins and make up the so-called sedimentary rocks.

An example of material formed by detritus is clay, which arises from the weathering of feldspar minerals. This sedimentary rock is a colloid that develops with the accumulation of aluminum silicates that come from the decomposition of granite and other rocks that have feldspar.

A debris cone, on the other hand, is a structure that arises from the accumulation of pieces of rock fallen from a slope or cliff. Ending in a valley, they pile up into a kind of cone.

For biology, debris are those solids that arise when organic matter decomposes. It is, therefore, dead matter that comes from animals or plants.

Organic matter is understood to mean that which is made up of organic compounds that originate in the remains of organisms that have been alive, such as animals and plants, but also their waste products found in a natural environment. Other names by which this concept is known are natural organic material or simply organic material.

A large number of species of protists, fungi and bacteria are part of the group of detritivores, precisely because they feed on organic matter in a state of decomposition, that is, detritus. These living beings are also known by the names of detritophagous, decomposers or saprophagous.

Detritivores are a fundamental part of ecosystems, since without them the recycling of nutrients and the decomposition of organic matter could not take place. It is known that many of these living beings do not have the capacity to digest portions of organic material, but they can absorb it at the molecular level, and these are the most important within this group. Some scientists do not include scavengers in this group, because they consume large chunks of food.

Apart from the detritivores mentioned above, we can find many others, such as the following: millipedes (formally called diplopods, a class whose most outstanding characteristic is that it has two pairs of articulated legs in almost all the double segments of its body); sow bugs (also known as piglets , ball bugs, or pellet bugs); carrion flies belonging to the family Sarcophagidae; the worms

Many insects are also considered detritivores, among which we find some types of fiddler crabs (which are characterized by digging burrows in the sandbanks of the marshy lands of the sea waters), terebelids (also known by the name of worms bristles, are usually very small and lead sedentary lives), polychaetes (thought to represent the oldest group of annelids, a phylum of invertebrate animals that often have segmented, worm-like bodies), and beetles.

Plastic debris, finally, is the waste produced by human activities that, either accidentally or on purpose, ends up in seas, rivers, lakes or other bodies of water.