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Weird question i know, but i found this large coprolite from a Cretaceous inland sea site near Richmond in QLD, Australia and it is by far the largest single coprolite i have collected. As you can see it is almost the size of my hand, though if whole it would have actually been even bigger as there is a clear break on one edge where it would have continued further. The sea at this time was inhabited by a range of marine reptiles (7m ichthyosaurs, 10m long necked elasmosaurs and 10m short necked pliosaurs) but also by some pretty big fish, the largest of which was the ichthyodectid Cooyoo australis (a relative of the more famous Xiphactinus audux). This species could grow to about 2.5 - 3m long. There isn't really a sure way of knowing what produced this coprolite, but i was hoping maybe i could rule out fish simply based on the large size. Assuming a maximum sized Cooyoo, would a 3 metre fish be able to produce a poo of this size? Or can i safely assume it belongs to one of the larger marine reptiles? This is probably a question best aimed at collectors of the Smoky Hill Chalk as they may be familiar with the size of large fish coprolites such as those of Xiphactinus. @KansasFossilHunter @Xiphactinus Interestingly there is a small belemnite poking out of the coprolite on one side, so whatever it came from must have been eating belemnites. I'm thinking ichthyosaur is most likely.
Paleoworld-101 posted a topic in Fossil Hunting TripsG'day everyone! This is the fourth big fossil hunting trip report I’ve written now on TFF and it covers my latest adventures in outback Central Queensland (in and around the small town of Richmond). Had I told myself only 3 years ago that I would get to go on all these amazing fossil hunting trips both in England and now in Australia as well I wouldn’t have believed it for a second! Yet now I can finally cross Richmond off my list, which is something I have wanted to do for many years now. Richmond is arguably the fossil capital of Australia and produces amazing material, both vertebrate and invertebrate, from a time during the Cretaceous period about 101-95 million years ago when roughly a quarter of Australia was periodically covered by a warm inland sea called the Eromanga Sea. Fossils of plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, fish, turtles, pterosaurs, ammonites and the occasional dinosaur washed in from neighbouring lands are among the most recognisable faunal groups found in the area. I was put into contact with Dr Patrick Smith (who is the curator of the local fossil museum at Richmond called Kronosaurus Korner) by one of my university teachers and from there it was planned for me to come up for a few weeks to Richmond to do a small taxonomy project on fossil shark teeth from the Mackunda Formation. I also participated in a 4 day excavation where Patrick, myself and a small team of other dedicated fossil enthusiasts helped dig up the skeleton of an Ichthyosaur (Platypterygius australis) that had been found in one of the free fossil hunting quarries near Richmond. The excavation made the news and a link to an online article about the dig can be found below. I made it into a couple of the photos! Although I have been collecting for 10 years now this was my first ‘proper’ fossil dig where I got to learn and observe a lot of the necessary skills used by vertebrate palaeontologists in the field when excavating a skeleton such as gridding, mapping bone positions, digging pedestals around the bones and plaster jacketing. Seeing it done countless times on many documentaries doesn’t compare to the real thing! I also got to try out various fossil prep techniques in the lab such as using air scribes and acid prepping. In addition to my internship I was able to do a lot of my own fossil hunting to add to my personal collection and this trip marked the first time that I could collect Australian Mesozoic vertebrate material which was a dream come true for me! My trip to Richmond also coincided with a trip run by the Fossil Club of NSW (which I am a member of) so I was able to collect with them on some days as well and also meet fellow TFF member Foosil, who is part of the club and also attended the trip. The results of my fossil collecting efforts and also my internship excavation are showcased below. Normally I would go into detail about the events of each day and end up with a small novel by the end of it but this time I have decided to let the pictures mostly do the talking instead. What I will say though is that the things I managed to find on this trip absolutely blew me away and are among the best things I have ever collected in my life up to this point, rivalling if not exceeding the very best finds I made on my previous two England collecting trips. To find this kind of fossil material in Australia so soon after doing the same sort of thing in Victoria only 7 months prior was very awesome for me and I already can’t wait for my next fossil trip to Forbes and Dunedoo (for Trilobites and Glossopteris leaves respectively) in just a couple of weeks! I also plan on returning to Richmond in June or July next year as well and continuing work with Patrick at the KK museum. My biggest problem will surely be finding the space to store all of these great finds. Now for the pictures! Ichthyosaur Excavation (5/7/16 to 8/7/16) and Miscellaneous Photos from the Trip News article (I’m the guy in the green jumper!): http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-12/marine-fossils-found-in-outback-qld/7589792 Here is the Ichthyosaurs articulated tail vertebrae, alongside a reconstruction of Platypterygius for reference. A photo of the Ichthyosaurs ribs, some vertebrae and also part of its jaw in the lower right corner More vertebrae, ribs and part of the jaw. The dig site with a grid set up prior to excavation. I am drawing a map of the bone positions in the ground so that the original context of the skeleton can be retained once we took it out in pieces. Me drawing my grid map. I must say it was a lot of fun! The finished product, which i was quite happy with! Note the animal was nicknamed 'B2' by its discoverer due to the banana-like shape of its body. The head is near the top left with its front paddles stretched out on either side, and its tail tip is towards the lower left. Starting to dig out the skeleton. Plaster jacketing sections of the skeleton. These next two photos of Izak (Foosil on TFF) and I were taken on a day collecting trip just out of Richmond. The rocks here are from the Mackunda Formation (97-96 million years old) and produced a nice assortment of shark teeth, crustaceans, bivalves, ammonites and belemnites. The dog belonged to the property owner, he wouldn't leave us alone! Me outside the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum near Winton. Now for the pictures of my fossil finds! Note that all fossil finds below unless otherwise stated are from the marine Toolebuc Formation and are about 100 million years old.