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GeschWhat

Calling All Cephalopod Experts! Are these beaks?

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GeschWhat

Hi All,

I have a new coprolite from the Black Ven area near Lyme Regis. It has what looks like undigested cephalopod beak inclusions. Can anyone out there confirm this for me? On the back side, it looks like a section through a belemnite cone, but I'm not seeing any hooks. There is also another inclusion that I can't quite figure out.

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GeschWhat

I'm not sure what this inclusion would be.

post-17480-0-88747700-1458503427_thumb.jpg

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GeschWhat

This is what I was thinking is a section through a cone.post-17480-0-85428900-1458503492_thumb.jpg

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GeschWhat

Here is the polished face of the coprolite.post-17480-0-47047100-1458503632_thumb.jpg

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caldigger

Certainly a lot going on in there. I was thinking more in the line of various fish bones, but I could easily be wrong.

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GeschWhat

Certainly a lot going on in there. I was thinking more in the line of various fish bones, but I could easily be wrong.

There could very well be fishy bits in there too!

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TqB

I'm not seeing any obvious belemnite or other cephalopod bits there, I suspect most of it is fish bits.

The circle is intriguing - edge of a vertebra perhaps?

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GeschWhat

Here is another inclusion that seems to be curving under. You all could may be totally correct in you assessment. I have quite a few from this area that have fish bone/scale inclusions. This one just doesn't have the same feel. I also have one coprolite specimen with belmnite hook inclusions. It also has a few semi circular inclusions that are similar except for the protrusions at the edge. I ordered a small squid beak online yesterday so I could maybe get a feel for what one would look like if it were sliced at different angles. Once the other half of this coprolite gets here, I may try to prep something out to see what I've got! Thank you all for looking. post-17480-0-85078200-1458510659_thumb.jpg

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squali

Very cool specimen. Most of the circular/curved objects appear to be broken fish verts. The mottled brown objects appear to be scales.

What size is the overall coprolite? Thanks for posting looking forward to other responses.

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GeschWhat

I did a little "excavating" on the back side. The inclusions are pretty brittle and kept chipping off. Looking more like bits of belemnite phragmacones and possibly beaks? There were a few other inclusions that looked a little fishy, but perhaps the poopetrator had the sampler platter?

post-17480-0-15689600-1458531300_thumb.jpgpost-17480-0-94636100-1458531300_thumb.jpgpost-17480-0-81398300-1458531301_thumb.jpg

Edited by GeschWhat

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TqB

Here is another inclusion that seems to be curving under. You all could may be totally correct in you assessment. I have quite a few from this area that have fish bone/scale inclusions. This one just doesn't have the same feel. I also have one coprolite specimen with belmnite hook inclusions. It also has a few semi circular inclusions that are similar except for the protrusions at the edge. I ordered a small squid beak online yesterday so I could maybe get a feel for what one would look like if it were sliced at different angles. Once the other half of this coprolite gets here, I may try to prep something out to see what I've got! Thank you all for looking. attachicon.gifCoprolite-Cephalopod-Beak-Inclusions-Lower-Lias-England-Back-1-Micro-4a-Zoom.jpg

That's very interesting, it does look the right shape for a beak - the problem is that, as far as I know, coleoid beaks aren't known from the Lias. The only beaks that do turn up are thought to be nautiloid, which of course have a calcified rhyncholite tip.

Belemnite beaks don't generally preserve and are practically unknown (one example from the Nusplingen Lithographic Limestone) and the other Lias coleoids with hard shells don't seem to have a preservable one either. ( That's the various "cuttlefish", though none of them actually are - Loligosepia, Phragmoteuthis, Clarkeiteuthis).

Trachyteuthis and Plesioteuthis from the Upper Jurassic do have beaks though they're chitinous and non-calcified (Lithographic Limestone again).

That said, your photo looks rather like this specimen of mine from the Charmouth Belemnite Marls. I tentatively had it down as a nautiloid because of the calcified tip but it's conceivably from a soft, otherwise unknown, squid of some sort. I haven't seen another quite like this.

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Edited by TqB

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GeschWhat

That's very interesting, it does look the right shape for a beak - the problem is that, as far as I know, coleoid beaks aren't known from the Lias. The only beaks that do turn up are thought to be nautiloid, which of course have a calcified rhyncholite tip.

Belemnite beaks don't generally preserve and are practically unknown (one example from the Nusplingen Lithographic Limestone) and the other Lias coleoids with hard shells don't seem to have a preservable one either. ( That's the various "cuttlefish", though none of them actually are - Loligosepia, Phragmoteuthis, Clarkeiteuthis).

Trachyteuthis and Plesioteuthis from the Upper Jurassic do have beaks though they're chitinous and non-calcified (Lithographic Limestone again).

That said, your photo looks rather like this specimen of mine from the Charmouth Belemnite Marls. I tentatively had it down as a nautiloid because of the calcified tip but it's conceivably from a soft, otherwise unknown, squid of some sort. I haven't seen another quite like this.

That is a really interesting specimen, Tarquin. It is situated at a perfect angle to be recognizable. Thank you so much for sharing it. I haven't been able to find anything on cephalopod beaks in the fossil records except for the Nusplingen example you mentioned. I primarily work with coprolites, so unless I clear away some of he surrounding material I'm only looking at sections, which can be hard to identify.

Here are some microscopic images of a totally different coprolite from Church Cliff Bay. It has cephalopod hooks. Now I'm wondering if the U-shaped inclusions in this one may be beak sections as well. I'm also wondering if the long inclusion might be a section of a belemnite proosterum. I remember reading some where that the rostrums were thought to have been regurgitated. I am assuming that is why they aren't found in coprolites. I can't wait to get my hands on a squid beak so I can do a little comparative anatomy.

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Al Dente

Here are some microscopic images of a totally different coprolite from Church Cliff Bay. It has cephalopod hooks.

I'm curious to know how do you differentiate cephalopod hooks from fish bones? It looks like it would be difficult with a 2 dimensional slice unless there is a textural difference.

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TqB

I'm also not sure if any of those are hooks - they could be but, as Al Dente says, sections are difficult to interpret.

Regurgitates of rostra have been reported but I've never been 100% convinced by the classic examples. However, they sometimes occur as stomach contents but I've not heard of any in coprolites so they had to go somewhere!

The belemnites around at the same time as these Lower Lias coprolites (the Sinemurian ones anyway) are all pretty small (Nannobelus sp.) so you'd perhaps expect a few to pass through sometimes...

Some British Hettangian ichthyosaurs have hooklets in the stomach contents even though belemnites are hardly recorded at the time - I haven't looked at any of these hooklets closely and I can't remember if they've been identified. So any coprolite hooklets could be from a non-belemnite.

Edited by TqB

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MarcoSr

I've collected a number of hooks from fine matrix from the UK. A few are shown in my below post. I'm not seeing what I thought were hooks but it could be that they are not fully uncovered in your samples, I also have collected thousands of Eocene coprolites from the US many of which have fish pieces embedded in them. Most of what I'm seeing in your pictures reminds me of those fish pieces.

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/38293-help-identify-fish-and-other-micros-from-the-jurassic-kellaways-clay-of-the-united-kingdom/?hl=%2Bmarco+%2Bsr+%2Bjurassic

Marco Sr.

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RJB

I have an ammo beak in rock sittin on my prep bench. I should take a photo of it and post it here. but no time till this afternoon.

RB

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Ptychodus04

I have an ammo beak in rock sittin on my prep bench. I should take a photo of it and post it here. but no time till this afternoon.

RB

I have one as well and will try to get some time under the microscope to photograph it in the next couple days.

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GeschWhat

I'm curious to know how do you differentiate cephalopod hooks from fish bones? It looks like it would be difficult with a 2 dimensional slice unless there is a textural difference.

The hooks appear to be hollow at one end. I have a smaller coprolite from the oxford clay that has intact hooks on one end. I am pretty confident this is from a cephalopod because I found another area in the same coprolite that is iridescent (like that of an cephalopod shell).

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I have looked at literally thousands of coprolites under the microscope. When something is different from what I am use to seeing (like fish bones and scales) they pop. Then I start asking questions. I worked for years as a structural engineering technician. Drawing sections through structures. Now my brain automatically tries to reconstruct things from what I am seeing. The original piece with hooks I purchased from a paleo that I respect, and he told me what they were. After looking at it under the microscope and comparing the structures with other photos I was convinced that the sample did indeed contain hooks as well as other things I haven't been able to identify. I thought perhaps some of the U-shaped inclusions might be beak sections, but at the time, I only had the one specimen. When I saw this new piece, I was hoping to find hooks, but didn't see any. However, it did contain the U-shaped inclusions (although different) which I thought might be beaks. When it comes right down to it, a lot of times I'm going on a hunch. I may not know what something is, but I can usually tell what it's not. I try to do use comparative science with modern species. That is why I ordered a squid beak. I will probably try to find and cut apart quite a few before I am done. I would love to find hooks from modern animals too, but I have a feeling they will be even harder to come by. As I get more coprolite specimens with these types of inclusions, I won't feel so bad destroying a few in order to get more conclusive answers.

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GeschWhat

I'm also not sure if any of those are hooks - they could be but, as Al Dente says, sections are difficult to interpret.

Regurgitates of rostra have been reported but I've never been 100% convinced by the classic examples. However, they sometimes occur as stomach contents but I've not heard of any in coprolites so they had to go somewhere!

The belemnites around at the same time as these Lower Lias coprolites (the Sinemurian ones anyway) are all pretty small (Nannobelus sp.) so you'd perhaps expect a few to pass through sometimes...

Some British Hettangian ichthyosaurs have hooklets in the stomach contents even though belemnites are hardly recorded at the time - I haven't looked at any of these hooklets closely and I can't remember if they've been identified. So any coprolite hooklets could be from a non-belemnite.

I'm not sure that they are from belemnites; however, there had to be other soft bodied cephalopods that may have had hooklets. In the Church Cliff Bay specimen, on the far right of the first photo, there is an inclusion that looks like a bit of phragmocone. The problem with studying coprolites is there is way too many possibilities. Most everything gets eaten by something. I don't think I could possibly learn enough in this life time to figure out 1/100000 what is out there. :)

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GeschWhat

I've collected a number of hooks from fine matrix from the UK. A few are shown in my below post. I'm not seeing what I thought were hooks but it could be that they are not fully uncovered in your samples, I also have collected thousands of Eocene coprolites from the US many of which have fish pieces embedded in them. Most of what I'm seeing in your pictures reminds me of those fish pieces.

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/38293-help-identify-fish-and-other-micros-from-the-jurassic-kellaways-clay-of-the-united-kingdom/?hl=%2Bmarco+%2Bsr+%2Bjurassic

Marco Sr.

Those are great photos...you have found so many different types! You haven't found any beaks by chance? Anyway, the object that I have circled in the photos are what I interpret to be hooks. There are a lot more in other areas of the coprolite. I mainly took photos that included things that I I found intriguing.

post-17480-0-39238400-1458592744_thumb.jpgpost-17480-0-21427400-1458592745_thumb.jpg

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GeschWhat

I have one as well and will try to get some time under the microscope to photograph it in the next couple days.

I have an ammo beak in rock sittin on my prep bench. I should take a photo of it and post it here. but no time till this afternoon.

RB

Please do! That would be really helpful.

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abyssunder

Here is the Hibolithes specimen from the Nusplingen Lithographic Limestone (Kimmeridgian, SW Germany), what Tarquin mentioned, showing the lower/upper beak and the hooks. Maybe is helpful.

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GeschWhat

Here are a couple more photos of what I believe to be hooks in the Oxford Clay specimen. These are covered a little more than the one in the previously posted photo.post-17480-0-09658800-1458608192_thumb.jpgpost-17480-0-75596000-1458608192_thumb.jpg

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MarcoSr

You haven't found any beaks by chance?

No, not that I'm aware of.

Marco Sr.

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Ptychodus04

Here are some photos of the ammonite ryncholite that I have in my collection for comparison to your specimens. This is from the Jurassic (don't have formation info unfortunately) of Cordoba, Spain.

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Edited by Ptychodus04

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