LATE CRETACEOUS MARINE COPROLITE RECORD IN THE SOUTHEAST: GETTING IT TOGETHER
Coprolites in aquatic depositional environments may be distinguished from terrestrial deposition by the absence of a flattened bottom side. Among identifiable fecal marine morphologies, spiral or scroll-shaped coprolites attributable to sharks are the most stereotypical: however, spiral morphology may be easily lost in ablated or mineralogically altered specimens. Also easily identifiable are coprolites of smaller crocodylians, with typically J-shaped posterior terminations, presumably deposited in shallow bays and estuaries. Larger, amphipolar coprolites replaced by calcite have been attributed to the giant, estuarine crocodylian Deinosuchus. Additional marine coprolite morphologies include a previously undescribed form with distinct sphincter marks at both ends, possibly from a larger teleost genus such as Xiphactinus. Some marine coprolites have inclusions ranging from fragmentary fish scales and teeth to complete vertebrae. A very notable small selachian coprolite from South Carolina includes the nearly entire cervical vertebral series from a newly-hatched freshwater turtle, providing insights into predator and prey habitats and behavior.