|COPROLITES are fossilized dinosaur manure, or dino dung, and dinosaurs
were no different from other animals in leaving such deposits or reminders
behind. Coprolites, or dino dung, are the solid byproducts left over after
digesting consumed food. Here is a wonderful image of some for you
To the average person, if they overheard a conversation where the word "coprolite" was used, they probably would not think anything about it. However, to say "dino dung" or a few other choice words, and one would get all sorts of funny looks from people! Despite their common association with bathroom humor, dinosaur coprolites are valuable trace fossils to learn about the diets and feeding behaviors of dinosaurs. Coprolites can show either a herbivorous diet of a dinosaur, if body fossils of plant material are found in it, or a carnivorous diet if bones are found. Dinosaur coprolites have not demonstrated that dinosaurs had an omnivorous (both plants and animals) diet. However, herbivorous dinosaurs probably did ingest or eat insects on plants while feeding, thus accidentally adding something extra to their diet. Have you ever taken a bite from an apple or a peach, then looked at the fruit when you are getting ready to take your next bite, only to see that there is just half of a worm left? That is when you realized that you just ate something you did not mean to and look what you just added to your diet! Dinosaurs probably did the same thing in eating insects but without all the funny looks that we would do when we eat insects.
| Coprolites also provide information about
the habitats and presence of dinosaurs in areas where an area might be
lacking dinosaur body fossils or other trace fossils such as tracks. Preservation
dino dung into coprolites is dependent on where it was deposited and how
it was buried. A good environment for preservation of dino dung would have
been the floodplains associated with rivers. There dino dung could be deposited
on a dry area, and dehydrated slightly, before it might be rapidly buried
by the flooding river. Being quickly buried is an important step in order
for something organic to be turned into a fossil. Other environments where
dino dung could likely have been preserved also includes ponds, swamps,
streams, and muddy areas associated with either estuaries or lakes.
Also important in the fossilizing of dino dung into coprolites is its original content, meaning the amount of organic material and water the dino dung contained. Coprolites made by herbivores dinosaurs such as sauropods were less likely to be preserved than those made by carnivorous dinosaurs such as theropods. The bone material of the consumed animals that were part of a carnivorous dinosaur's diet, added to the high mineral content of their dino dung, which aided in its fossilization. The size of a coprolite tells something about a dinosaur. Large coprolites most likely come from herbivores such as sauropods because they had to eat a large amount of plant material to survive. This meant there would be a large amount of food to be digested and also large dino dung reminders. Just think about cows, since they are herbivores, and how they eat a large amount of grass. Look at the size of what they leave behind! However, individual dinosaur coprolites can actually be quite small compared to their body size. For those of you interested in obtaining some of these wonderful reminders, and yes they are sold, we have provided you with a site for you to visit. Just click on the icon below to see what can have as you very own paperweight, or doorstop, and not to mention a real conversation maker!