Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:20 AM
THE FOSSIL RECORD AND IMPORTANCE OF VERTEBRATE COPROLITES
Coprolites from the Soom Shale Lagerstätte (Late Ordovician) of South Africa may be the oldest vertebrate coprolites. Early Silurian vertebrate(?) coprolites from Scotland and Nova Scotia consist of macerated fish material. Putative vertebrate coprolites from the Late Silurian of the British Isles are argillaceous scroll coprolites in Ireland and Scotland and cylindrical coprolites with invertebrate fragments in the Welsh borderlands. Devonian vertebrate coprolites are locally common in Canada, Germany and Scotland. The first abundant samples of vertebrate coprolites are in the Mississippian of Europe and North America. Pennsylvanian coprolites are more abundant and come from marine (mainly heterospiral forms) to lagoonal Lagerstätten to nonmarine paleoenvironments. Acme for vertebrate coprolites in the Permo-Triassic includes an abundance of spiral forms in redbeds of the nonmarine Early Permian of the United States and Europe, and terrestrial Permian coprolites from South Africa, Russia, Antarctica and Brazil. Marine Permian coprolites occur in Europe. Triassic coprolites are abundant, widely dispersed (North and South America, Europe, Australasia, Asia), relatively well studied, and increase in abundance from Early to Late Triassic. The first undoubted herbivore coprolites are from the Middle Triassic. Jurassic coprolites have not been well studied, except for those from the marine Lias of England. Other Early Jurassic units in Europe and North America yield coprolites. Marine and nonmarine Cretaceous coprolites are known in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia, but most research has focused on Late Cretaceous nonmarine coprolites. North America has the best described record of Tertiary coprolites, with nonmarine specimens from almost every epoch and notably large samples in the Eocene Green River Formation and Eocene/Oligocene White River Group. Tertiary coprolites are also present in South America, Europe and Asia. Quaternary coprolites characterize many paleontological and archeological sites worldwide, most notably in caves of the arid American Southwest. Vertebrate coprolites have many uses, including in paleobiology, as direct evidence of the evolution of digestive systems, and as proxies for biotaxa in biochronology, ichnofacies and biogeography.