Jump to content
GeschWhat

Coprolite food chain or overactive imagination?

Recommended Posts

GeschWhat

I have a coprolite that has me somewhat puzzled. It was found in a river in South Carolina and dates Miocene-Pliocene. I picked it up at the Tucson Gem Show because I thought it resembled some east coast coprolites with longitudinal striations/furrows/grooves that @MarcoSr posted a while back. Now that I've looked at it for a while and done a little prep work, I'm not so sure the grooves are sphincter related. There are intestinal muscle marks visible on one side, but they don't seem to match up with the grooves. The grooves were filled with sandstone/limestone. I left matrix in the deeper portions to preserve the integrity of the specimen. Across from the grooves are what look like puncture marks. My first thought was that they were clam borings. However, they do line up with the grooves in question. Now I'm wondering if these could be tooth marks as well. Under magnification, I noticed smaller tooth marks and an impression that I can't figure out.

 

My imagination is now getting the best of me, and I'm seeing food chain activity. I'm seeing a big fish nabbing a small fish that was nabbing an invertebrate that was feasting on feces.

 

Do you think the larger grooves and holes could be tooth marks?

 

Does anyone have any idea what could have left the impression? The only thing I could think of is some sort of mollusk.

 

Love your thoughts on this.

 

@Carl

Coprolite-South-Carolina-Feeding-Traces-Muscle-Marks.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

Coprolite-South-Carolina-Feeding-Traces-Features.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

I am having a problem loading a 

FoodChain.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

Here is a straight on shot of what might be the large tooth marks.

Coprolite-South-Carolina-Feeding-Traces-Large tooth marks.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
westcoast

New to coprolites but heres my 2 cents. To me these look more like possible spiny fin marks perhaps made as a fish tried to roll it. At the far right side of the coprolite some of the marks change in width and I can't quite picture how a fixed row of thin pointed teeth could do this. Perhaps a fish jaw and a lump of Playdoh in the same shape could be used to recreate the marks?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rockwood

Have you considered the possibility that it is the stomach equivalent of a cololite ?

It looks a bit like the way I feel after overeating. :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plax

large "tooth" marks look like fecal structure to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Carl

Yeesh... I can't even form an opinion here, despite the wonderful photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

 

1 hour ago, Plax said:

large "tooth" marks look like fecal structure to me.

That was my first thought as well. I know it is a stretch. There is just something a little different about this (which could just mean a different type of intestine/sphincter). I wish this wasn't broken - it would make it a lot easier to tell what is going on.

6 hours ago, westcoast said:

New to coprolites but heres my 2 cents. To me these look more like possible spiny fin marks perhaps made as a fish tried to roll it. At the far right side of the coprolite some of the marks change in width and I can't quite picture how a fixed row of thin pointed teeth could do this. Perhaps a fish jaw and a lump of Playdoh in the same shape could be used to recreate the marks?

I like your thinking. After watching this puffer fish video, I wouldn't rule anything out. Now to find a fish jaw! I am heading down to the Science Museum next Tuesday. They are between paleos right now, so that is a day the volunteers come in. For the time being I'll try to rig something up. I have been researching keratinized papillae as possible trace makers on some terrestrial coprolites (evidently some modern reptiles/amphibians have them). One of my cats starts licking when you hit the right itchy spot. So I was going to try to use a hard boiled egg to see if I can get a look at what her tongue marks look like - should be interesting.  I'll probably just end up with a crumbly mess. :D

6 hours ago, Rockwood said:

Have you considered the possibility that it is the stomach equivalent of a cololite ?

It looks a bit like the way I feel after overeating. :) 

If it were a gastrolite (the stomach equivalent of a cololite), I would expect to see inclusions. It could be a cololite though. 

 

I'm working on some additional photos - stay tuned!

 

1 hour ago, Carl said:

Yeesh... I can't even form an opinion here, despite the wonderful photos.

I sure wish you lived closer, so we could play with poop! Hey - they are looking for a paleo curator at the Science Museum of Minnesota! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat

Here are some additional photos of the large grooves. Curiouser and curiouser.

Prepped-Large-Teeth-Iso.jpg

Prepped-Large-Teeth-View1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plax

looks like the braided type of structure seen in some feces. the broken end seems to show some individual structure elements also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
4 minutes ago, Plax said:

looks like the braided type of structure seen in some feces. the broken end seems to show some individual structure elements also.

I'm not familiar with that. Do you happen to have some photos of examples?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Carl
4 hours ago, GeschWhat said:

 

That was my first thought as well. I know it is a stretch. There is just something a little different about this (which could just mean a different type of intestine/sphincter). I wish this wasn't broken - it would make it a lot easier to tell what is going on.

I like your thinking. After watching this puffer fish video, I wouldn't rule anything out. Now to find a fish jaw! I am heading down to the Science Museum next Tuesday. They are between paleos right now, so that is a day the volunteers come in. For the time being I'll try to rig something up. I have been researching keratinized papillae as possible trace makers on some terrestrial coprolites (evidently some modern reptiles/amphibians have them). One of my cats starts licking when you hit the right itchy spot. So I was going to try to use a hard boiled egg to see if I can get a look at what her tongue marks look like - should be interesting.  I'll probably just end up with a crumbly mess. :D

If it were a gastrolite (the stomach equivalent of a cololite), I would expect to see inclusions. It could be a cololite though. 

 

I'm working on some additional photos - stay tuned!

 

I sure wish you lived closer, so we could play with poop! Hey - they are looking for a paleo curator at the Science Museum of Minnesota! ;)

Don't torment me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ynot

Could the larger marks be from folding during deposition?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
54 minutes ago, ynot said:

Could the larger marks be from folding during deposition?

That's a thought. Since the end is broken off it is hard to tell. 

Share this post


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

Don't torment me!

I'm making fish jaws and pretending to bite poop with them...super fun...:D

 

IMG_9661a.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MarcoSr

Lori

 

I used to think that very closely spaced lines were an indication of shark tooth serration scrapes and wider more puncture like marks were an indication of shark tooth tip scrapes/punctures.  However after seeing feeding trace marks left by a number of different invertebrates in one of your previous posts I really don't know how to tell the difference for sure anymore.

 

I'm posting below the coprolites (35mm to 60mm) that I previously posted with furrows/grooves ( Note the specimens circled in red) that came from the Eocene of Virginia for comparison to your specimen.  Unfortunately I can't take better individual pictures because all of the specimens were donated.

 

5aa9d86cb9458_CoprolitesMikeF.EoceneVA35mm-60mm.thumb.jpg.f1e1539a5c563f0a81d830857d5ebd5d.jpg

 

Marco Sr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plax
17 hours ago, GeschWhat said:

I'm not familiar with that. Do you happen to have some photos of examples?

look at 7oclock on Marcos post above. Feces aren't always made of continuous streams but are convoluted aggregations of lesser diameters. Thought braided was a simpler word for it but now that I think of it you may have thought I meant it literally. Your coprolite may have shown these features over more of the surface before being worn down into the pebble that it is now. I see multiple elements in the smooth section that probably had a larger diameter than the ones that look like grooves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
11 hours ago, MarcoSr said:

Lori

 

I used to think that very closely spaced lines were an indication of shark tooth serration scrapes and wider more puncture like marks were an indication of shark tooth tip scrapes/punctures.  However after seeing feeding trace marks left by a number of different invertebrates in one of your previous posts I really don't know how to tell the difference for sure anymore.

 

I'm posting below the coprolites (35mm to 60mm) that I previously posted with furrows/grooves ( Note the specimens circled in red) that came from the Eocene of Virginia for comparison to your specimen.  Unfortunately I can't take better individual pictures because all of the specimens were donated.

 

5aa9d86cb9458_CoprolitesMikeF.EoceneVA35mm-60mm.thumb.jpg.f1e1539a5c563f0a81d830857d5ebd5d.jpg

 

Marco Sr.

I actually had these samples in mind when I bought mine. :D Because it wraps around the end and has a parallel furrows, I would think the one in the forefront reflects intestinal/sphincter structure. These match the Triassic examples I have. I found some new information on the furrowed coprolites from herbivores. I think I will post that under your thread that discusses these to keep the info together. Briefly, they found furrowed coprolites in South America that they are attributing to herbivores (big rodents). Thanks for chiming in!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MarcoSr

Lori

 

The more I look at your below picture, the more I think the marks were caused by a shark bite.  A good number of shark species have lower slender pointed teeth for holding/grasping and upper triangular teeth for cutting.  Seeing the marks on your coprolite and how they line up would be consistent with how I would expect a bite from this type of shark to look with the upper punctures on your coprolite below being caused by the shark's lower holding/grasping teeth and the lower cutting marks on your coprolite below being caused by the shark's upper cutting teeth.

 

5aaaa007f3b97_coprolitesharkbitemarks.thumb.jpg.234b241813f02ee4c149d39b127a7682.jpg

 

Marco Sr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
3 hours ago, MarcoSr said:

Lori

 

The more I look at your below picture, the more I think the marks were caused by a shark bite.  A good number of shark species have lower slender pointed teeth for holding/grasping and upper triangular teeth for cutting.  Seeing the marks on your coprolite and how they line up would be consistent with how I would expect a bite from this type of shark to look with the upper punctures on your coprolite below being caused by the shark's lower holding/grasping teeth and the lower cutting marks on your coprolite below being caused by the shark's upper cutting teeth.

 

5aaaa007f3b97_coprolitesharkbitemarks.thumb.jpg.234b241813f02ee4c149d39b127a7682.jpg

 

Marco Sr.

Learned something new again! I have never seen shark teeth like that - but then I know next to nothing about shark teeth. Do you have any idea what species of sharks have teeth like that? I was almost able to replicate the grooves using some narrow shark teeth I mounted in sculpey clay. Unfortunately, I tried to bend it because one tooth wasn't aligned properly and it crumbled...plus my poo-dough kept getting smaller and smaller since I was trying to replicate the marks underwater. I picked up some epoxy today, so I will try to rig up something a little more durable and see what happens.

 

Care to take a stab at what left the impression?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ynot

I have a hard time seeing a shark or fish that has a main diet of fish taking a snail off of a coprolite.

The type of shark that would go after a crustacean or mollusk does not have the needle like teeth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MarcoSr
16 hours ago, GeschWhat said:

Learned something new again! I have never seen shark teeth like that - but then I know next to nothing about shark teeth. Do you have any idea what species of sharks have teeth like that? I was almost able to replicate the grooves using some narrow shark teeth I mounted in sculpey clay. Unfortunately, I tried to bend it because one tooth wasn't aligned properly and it crumbled...plus my poo-dough kept getting smaller and smaller since I was trying to replicate the marks underwater. I picked up some epoxy today, so I will try to rig up something a little more durable and see what happens.

 

Care to take a stab at what left the impression?

 

Lori

 

There are too many species like that to list.  There are also sharks that have slender pointed upper teeth for grasping/holding and triangular lower teeth for cutting.  A possible candidate in the Miocene/Pliocene might be a Carcharhinus species shark.  Check out the below link and you can see the dentitions of a number of species of Carcharhinus.

 

http://naka.na.coocan.jp/JAWCarcharhinidae.html

 

Marco Sr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GeschWhat
9 hours ago, ynot said:

I have a hard time seeing a shark or fish that has a main diet of fish taking a snail off of a coprolite.

The type of shark that would go after a crustacean or mollusk does not have the needle like teeth.

I was thinking of something that maybe extends from shell to feed or maybe something without a shell. The smaller marks could be from a mollusk as well. I just don't know enough about ocean critters. :D

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.

×