230 Million Year Fecal Fossil Food Patterns Found


One of the samples taken from two pieces of feces, dating to about 230 million years ago, was found with beetle bugs and fish and crushed bivalve mollusc residues on the other.

A new study by a group of paleontologists from Uppsala University and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) has shown that three-dimensional and high-quality models of preserved food residues can be formed in fecal fossils using synchrotron radiation

Study by a group of paleontologists from Uppsala University and ESRF in Grenoble, France, showed that high-quality 3D models of food residues in fecal fossils could be formed by synchrotron radiation

Two specimens of two feces dated to the Triassic period, beginning approximately 230 million years ago, were found to be beetle bugs and fish and crushed bivalve mollusc residues on the other.

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Large and impressive fossils of carnivorous dinosaurs such as Tiranozor Rex (T-Rex) are of interest all over the world. Fossilized stools are not the focus of such an interest, but the fossils, which are called coprolites, are extremely important. The coprolites give the researcher information that can not be obtained by examining the skeleton of the animal's lifestyle and diet.

It is known that the qualities of the coprolites were defined by the English William Buckland in the nineteenth century, but the coprolites have not been examined as much as other fossil species since that day. Nevertheless, it is also reported that during the past few years, coplasts have found stunning fossil remains of food, parasites and other unwanted objects. A major problem, however, continues to lead to headaches: most of these findings are based on two-dimensional cross-sections from coprolites, so that a large part of the samples on hand can not be analyzed and many of the inclusions become unidentifiable

Researchers at the University of Uppsala in Switzerland and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France decided to visualize the contents of coprolite through synchrotron tomography, without destroying the sample, in three dimensions. This imaging process is basically the same as a computerized tomography method used in hospitals, but the x-ray beams used in this method are thousands of times more powerful than those used in computerized tomography. Thus, it is possible to visualize the internal structure of stool fossils and reconstruct their contents as never before.

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The content of the 230 million-year-old coprolites discovered in Poland was shown using this method. Only one of the coprolites found only beetle remains. The two wings of three different species and a piece of the leg were visualized in three dimensions, preserved very well in the fossil. It is believed that the coprolithin-bearing animal feeds with beetles. The second example discovered is the crushed mussel shells and a piece of fish. A known lungfish in the area where caprolitin is present is thought to have the most probable ownership of this coprolide.

"Our next step will be to analyze all the types of coprolites in the region where these fossils are found, to learn who is eating what or what they eat and to understand the interactions within the ecosystem."

Martin Quvarnström, a research fellow and also a Ph.D.

Upsalla University. Heritage Daily.


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