, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 461-467
Date: 09 Mar 2010

Shark-bitten vertebrate coprolites from the Miocene of Maryland

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Abstract

Coprolites (fossilized feces) preserve a wide range of biogenic components, from bacteria and spores to a variety of vertebrate tissues. Two coprolites from the Calvert Cliffs outcrop belt (Miocene-aged Chesapeake Group), MD, USA, preserve shark tooth impressions in the form of partial dental arcades. The specimens are the first known coprolites to preserve vertebrate tooth marks. They provide another example of trace fossils providing evidence of prehistoric animal behaviors that cannot be directly approached through the study of body fossils. Shark behaviors that could account for these impressions include: (1) aborted coprophagy, (2) benthic or nektonic exploration, or (3) predation.