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Coprolite "Hybodus reticulatus"

Coprolite "Hybodus reticulatus"

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Lower Cretaceous epoch, Albian stage c. 100,5-113,0 million years ago, Tegana formation, Taouz, Morocco.

A coprolite (coprolith) is fossilized feces. Coprolites are classified as trace fossils as opposed to body fossils, as they give evidence for the animal's behaviour (in this case, diet) rather than morphology. The name is derived from the Greek words kopros (κόπρος), meaning "dung" and lithos (λίθος), meaning "stone". They were first described by William Buckland in 1829. Prior to this they were known as "fossil fir cones" and "bezoar stones". They serve a valuable purpose in paleontology because they provide direct evidence of the predation and diet of extinct organisms. Coprolites may range in size from a few millimetres to over 60 centimetres.

Coprolites, distinct from paleofeces, are fossilized animal dung. Like other fossils, coprolites have had much of their original composition replaced by mineral deposits such as silicates and calcium carbonates. Paleofeces, on the other hand, retain much of their original organic composition and can be reconstituted to determine their original chemical properties, though in practice the term coprolite is also used for ancient human faecal material in archaeological contexts.

Hybodus (from Greek: ύβος hybos, 'crooked' and Greek: ὀδούς odoús 'tooth') is an extinct genus of shark that, in a strict sense, only lived during the Early Jurassic epoch. Hybodus species grew to about 2 metres in length. It was not very big, but had the classic streamlined shark shape, complete with two dorsal fins that would have helped it steer with precision. Hybodus' varied dentition would have allowed it to opportunistically exploit a variety of food sources; sharper teeth would have been used to catch slippery prey, while the flatter teeth probably helped them crush shelled creatures.

Fascinating, small shark (Hybodus reticulatus) coprolite. Excellent condition. Age-related wear, minor abrasion and chip. Beautiful patina. Dirt and dust. Size approx. 5,7cm x 3,5cm x 3,2cm. Weight c. 63g.

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