June 17, 2018

Coprolite – Dinosaur Poo!

What Is Dinosaur Poo?

Dinosaur coprolite (Dinosaur Poo) is fossilized animal dung. Like other fossils, coprolites have had much of their original composition replaced by mineral deposits such as silicates and calcium carbonates. The name is derived from the Greek words κόπρος (kopros, meaning "dung") and λίθος (lithos, meaning "stone").
They serve a valuable purpose in paleontology because they provide direct evidence of the predation and diet of extinct organisms.

Victorian Fossil hunter Mary Anning had noticed that "bezoar stones" were often found in the abdominal region of ichthyosaur skeletons found in the Lias formation at Lyme Regis. She also noted that if such stones were broken open they often contained fossilized fish bones and scales as well as sometimes bones from smaller ichthyosaurs. It was these observations by Anning that led the geologist William Buckland to propose in 1829 that the stones were fossilized feces and named them coprolites.

By examining coprolites, paleontologists are able to find information about the diet of the animal (if bones or other food remains are present), such as whether it was a herbivorous or carnivorous, and the taphonomy of the coprolites, although the producer is rarely identified unambiguously, especially with more ancient examples.[6] In one example these fossils can be analyzed for certain minerals that are known to exist in trace amounts in certain species of plant that can still be detected millions of years later.

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