, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 461–467 | Cite as

Shark-bitten vertebrate coprolites from the Miocene of Maryland

  • Stephen J. GodfreyEmail author
  • Joshua B. Smith
Original Paper


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.


Coprolites Miocene Carcharhinidae Chesapeake Group Calvert Cliffs 



Both bitten coprolites were collected and brought to our attention by W. Douglass; we are thankful for the generosity of N. Riker in donating CMM-V-2245. T. Scheirer (Calvert Marine Museum) drew Fig. 4 with the same expertise that characterizes his work. We are indebted to K. Chin (University of Colorado), W. Counterman, R. Purdy (Smithsonian Institution), B. Kent (University of Maryland), G. Mustoe (Western Washington University), and three anonymous reviewers, for comments and suggestions that greatly improved this manuscript. C. Ryerson (American Institutes for Research), Paul Berry (CMM), and M. Woroner (Institute for Global Environmental Strategies) kindly edited later versions. This article was made possible by funding from the Board of Calvert County Commissioners, the citizens of Calvert County, and the Clarissa and Lincoln Dryden Endowment for Paleontology at the Calvert Marine Museum.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PaleontologyCalvert Marine MuseumSolomonsUSA
  2. 2.American Institutes for ResearchWashingtonUSA

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