Jump to content
Ramo

Niobrara coprolite with marks

Recommended Posts

Ramo

I have been talking snarge with GeschWhat, and sent her some pictures of two coprolites I have collected over the years in the Niobrara Chalk of western Kansas.  I have shown these to a few people, and nobody seems to know what caused these strange marks.  The one that is marked a lot was the first I found.  It was sticking out of a chalk cliff about 5 feet above the floor of the valley.  The marks were on the parts of it still in the chalk, so there is no way they were added after fossilization.  Years later I found another similar sized coprolite, also in the Niobrara but not associated with this one that also has very similar marks, though not as noticeable possibly due to it being badly weathered and a surface find.  I may have posted this years ago, but since people come and go on here, I thought I'd give it another shot.

 

Ramo

 

001.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ramo

Here is a picture of the other (top) side of the coprolites.  The marks seem to be on the "bottom" side.

003.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MarcoSr

The lines remind me of meg serration scratches that I see sometimes in whale bone.  The lines on your specimens seem too close together and too regularly spaced to be from shark tooth tips.  Since Squalicorax were the sharks with serrated teeth from that time period, would Squalicorax serration spacing match the spacing of the lines on your specimens?  If not maybe the tooth tips of a bony fish may have made the lines.  But I would expect more puncture like marks rather than scratches from tooth tips especially on a soft coprolite.

 

Marco Sr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ynot

Could they have been caused by whatever the poop settled on when fresh?

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

That one on the left in the second photo is a really nice spiral! Is that the one with all the markings?

 

If the marks were made when the poop was soft, I wouldn't expect them to skip over the folds shown here it was frozen when the marks were made. I am sticking to my hypoothesis that they are traces left by a burrowing critter sometime after fossilization or when it was only partially mineralized. :D Although, it looks like the spiral could possibly be a cololite rather than a coprolite. If that is the one with all the marks, it might make sense if they were made by scavenging fish similar to the modern hagfish. If that were the case, the spiral valve could have been nicked as the scavengers fed on the carcass. Here is what the hagfish mouth looks like. Just a thought.

 

EDIT: I'm not sure how hagfish jaws work, but check out this guy. It looks like he could make angular patterns similar to what is on your specimen.

 

 

Coprolite marks.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MarcoSr
2 hours ago, ynot said:

Could they have been caused by whatever the poop settled on when fresh?

Tony

 

Tony

 

I also thought that the one specimen with all the lines might have been tumbled along the bottom by a current which caused it to get a bunch of shell impression scratches going in a lot of different directions.

 

Marco Sr. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plax

almost certainly not from a vegetable eating animal in the Niobrara but the striations could be coarse undigested plant structure in the feces. Would be more of a possibility if they were Ogallala? (I was thinking Brule but it's not on the Kansas geo map) coprolites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
westcoast

What other creatures are found in this horizon? The scratches are straight, even and equally spaced. I'm thinking those marks were made by something like a rigid, spiny fish fin..trying to roll or turn the semi rigid poop.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ramo

The only thing I have seen similar are Squalicorax tooth marks on bone.  But the lines are too far apart for that I believe.  Weird how they are only on the bottom.  If these are some kind of tooth mark, weird how there are none on the top.  Looks like it was worked over pretty good based on the different directions the marks are found.

A spiny fish fin or fish ribs maybe caused it somehow.  Or possibly some part of the internal anatomy of whatever these came out of.

 

Ramo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abyssunder

Hard to say who is responsable for the parallel equidistant superposed scratch packets of different directions, but I think they're not accidentally made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

Here is an interesting article on the hagfish jaw morphology. If I understand this correctly, when they feed, their jaw projects out, unfolds like a hinge, grabs onto it's prey and then closes again when it retracts. From what I have been able to find out, their is evidence that their relatives have been around for 300 million years. If you look closely at the coprolite, you can see that the sets marks are in angular pairs that would be consistent with this type of jaw structure. I contacted the guy from Oceans of Kansas to see if he has seen anything similar to the hagfish in the fossil record. If there is, perhaps we could determine the tooth spacing and draw some conclusions from that. 

Hagfish Jaw.gif

Niobrara Coprolites Jaw marks.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

Nice one @westcoast! George Frandsen at the Poozeum has some nice ones too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

Ramo knew I liked to play with poop (fossilized of course) and generously offered to send me some from his neck of the woods. Well I received my package yesterday. The Niobrara coprolites were covered in powdery chalk, so I gave them a quick rinse before putting them under the microscope. Guess what I found on one of them? 

 

 

Marine-Coprolite-Niobrara-Formation-Tooth-Marks.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bandicoot

I'm not so sure about hag fish... but I'm only familiar with the feeding habits of the currently living ones. Current Hag fish when feeding or even biting at something tie them selves in a knot and twist. This would give a "cookie cutter" or circle mark, and if they just clamp on to you, you get a distinct double curved V shape pattern on the skin, or what ever it happens to clamp onto.... Not that I would know this from personal experience.... or anything like that :hearty-laugh:

 

Though on a serious note and all joking aside I would really like to see what GeschWhat's contact would say. I could see a Hag trying to extract minerals from something like this but I have no clue what the mineral composition of this sort of coprolite or cololite would be... I have seen Hags in lab setups trying to eat large rocks and cuttlefish bones so maybe this would have been something similar after mineralization started to occur and maybe a Hag had a burrow next to where the coprolite deposit was several millions of years ago? 

Now I feel like I'm grasping at straws here... I'm 99.9% sure some one else has a much better and grander idea than me... LOL 

Plus it is 3:30 am for me so my brain is a touch foggy at the moment. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bandicoot

ok My fuzzy brain decided to look up fish teeth impressions on bone... and this wonder came up... this is more like a Hag bitemark... http://nebula.wsimg.com/c0291b2b0d9befc53a061252998528b0?AccessKeyId=BCD638FC2A7E3F8A162E&disposition=0&alloworigin=1 The site states that it is a possible Gar fish but this really looks like the fresh bite I got from a Hag in the labs. 

 

Just my 2 cents 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fifbrindacier
On 2 février 2017 at 5:35 AM, GeschWhat said:

That one on the left in the second photo is a really nice spiral! Is that the one with all the markings?

 

If the marks were made when the poop was soft, I wouldn't expect them to skip over the folds shown here it was frozen when the marks were made. I am sticking to my hypoothesis that they are traces left by a burrowing critter sometime after fossilization or when it was only partially mineralized. :D Although, it looks like the spiral could possibly be a cololite rather than a coprolite. If that is the one with all the marks, it might make sense if they were made by scavenging fish similar to the modern hagfish. If that were the case, the spiral valve could have been nicked as the scavengers fed on the carcass. Here is what the hagfish mouth looks like. Just a thought.

 

EDIT: I'm not sure how hagfish jaws work, but check out this guy. It looks like he could make angular patterns similar to what is on your specimen.

 

 

Coprolite marks.JPG

When i wrote cololite on internet, it showed me a suede sponge (not fossil) brush, and products for shoes like polish and oil leather care and water stop.:wacko::wacko:

But i guess this is rather an intestinal internal cast.;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
1 hour ago, fifbrindacier said:

When i wrote cololite on internet, it showed me a suede sponge (not fossil) brush, and products for shoes like polish and oil leather care and water stop.:wacko::wacko:

But i guess this is rather an intestinal internal cast.;)

A general search on cololite here usually just gives me links to diet pills and leather care.  :wacko: The term is widely accepted in the scientific community. You might this paper helpful. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bandicoot

you took the text right out of my fingers there GeschWhat LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
6 hours ago, Bandicoot said:

I'm not so sure about hag fish... but I'm only familiar with the feeding habits of the currently living ones. Current Hag fish when feeding or even biting at something tie them selves in a knot and twist. This would give a "cookie cutter" or circle mark, and if they just clamp on to you, you get a distinct double curved V shape pattern on the skin, or what ever it happens to clamp onto.... Not that I would know this from personal experience.... or anything like that :hearty-laugh:

 

Though on a serious note and all joking aside I would really like to see what GeschWhat's contact would say. I could see a Hag trying to extract minerals from something like this but I have no clue what the mineral composition of this sort of coprolite or cololite would be... I have seen Hags in lab setups trying to eat large rocks and cuttlefish bones so maybe this would have been something similar after mineralization started to occur and maybe a Hag had a burrow next to where the coprolite deposit was several millions of years ago? 

Now I feel like I'm grasping at straws here... I'm 99.9% sure some one else has a much better and grander idea than me... LOL 

Plus it is 3:30 am for me so my brain is a touch foggy at the moment. :P

 

6 hours ago, Bandicoot said:

ok My fuzzy brain decided to look up fish teeth impressions on bone... and this wonder came up... this is more like a Hag bitemark... http://nebula.wsimg.com/c0291b2b0d9befc53a061252998528b0?AccessKeyId=BCD638FC2A7E3F8A162E&disposition=0&alloworigin=1 The site states that it is a possible Gar fish but this really looks like the fresh bite I got from a Hag in the labs. 

 

Just my 2 cents 

Interesting! So you have hagfish in the lab? I hate to admit it, but yesterday morning I sat and watched YouTube videos of hagfish munching on a whale carcass hoping to see what their bite marks would look like...to no avail. :popcorn: I contacted Andrew Clark (one of the authors of Morphology and kinematics of feeding in hagfish: possible functional advantages
of jaws) via email, but am still waiting for a reply. The paper was accepted back in 2007, so I hope the email address is still valid. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bandicoot
1 minute ago, GeschWhat said:

 

Interesting! So you have hagfish in the lab? I hate to admit it, but yesterday morning I sat and watched YouTube videos of hagfish munching on a whale carcass hoping to see what their bite marks would look like...to no avail. :popcorn: I contacted Andrew Clark (one of the authors of Morphology and kinematics of feeding in hagfish: possible functional advantages
of jaws) via email, but am still waiting for a reply. The paper was accepted back in 2007, so I hope the email address is still valid. 

 

 This was long long ago in a far off time. It was...  I believe a study on there slime back in 2002, but for the life of me cant remember. All I can really remember form it was watching them feed because it was the creepiest thing I had ever seen, taking notes on there "social" behavior and having some in a large acrylic tank and me and a few fellow students dared each other to stick our hands in the tank to get them to excrete there slime they are so noted for. But when I tried to pick one up it became a slime blob from Hadies so I two handed it it whipped around and grabbed the fleshy part of my hand where my thumb is. I knew they had teeth but I never figured a bite until the little sucker really latched on LOL  Being a Jawless fish, you wouldnt think it would have really a "bite" to it. I was more embarrassed than anything from it and never told my Prof. 

 

Feeding videos are neat to watch, but they are as you saw hard to video, once they get into feeding they just sort of go crazy, tying in knots, burrowing into the food source ect....  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
abyssunder

I know I have seen somewhere similar marks, and you're right about the chiton grazing traces. They look similar to the marks in question.

 

"Chitons are the some of the most obvious eroders of the intertidal zone: their 8-plated shell and a colourful margin of soft tissue make them conspicuous in many sites. They are armed with a radula of extremely hard magnetite-capped teeth that allow them to easily remove layers of calcium carbonate and other substrates. Their rasp marks are usually meandering or straight sets of parallel grooves engraved into substrate. They also produce pronounced homing scars - larger pits that accommodate an individual animal's body size and represent its long term residence."

5a2da527be641_M.KazmerD.Taborosi_2012.Bioerosiononthesmallscaleexamplesfromthetropicalandsubtropicallittoral.MonostoriJubileeVolume.Hantkeniana73794.thumb.jpg.5178300b252369673c7ed54bbad9468b.jpg

excerpts from M. Kazmer, D. Taborosi. 2012. Bioerosion on the small scale – examples from the tropical and subtropical littoral. Monostori Jubilee Volume. Hantkeniana 7: 37-94

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Coco

Hi,

 

Very interesting PDF, I thought that tracks were very too big to have been made by chitons !

 

Coco

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ash

What a fantastically interesting thread this has been :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×