First shark teeth marks preserved in a coprolite

Last updated: October 4, 2017 at 17:36 pm

In a paper published on March 10, 2010, paleontologists Stephen Godfrey and Joshua Smith report having discovered what appear to be marine crocodile coprolites* on a Maryland beach (Calvert Cliffs). Two of the coprolites dated to around 15 million years ago, bear characteristic tooth marks of a prehistoric shark, most likely a Miocene ancestor of the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). Because the tooth marks are shallow and found only on one side, the researchers believe that the feces were still in the body of the animal when they were bitten. This would indicate that the shark was possibly attacking a live or dead crocodile. These specimens are also the first known coprolites to preserve vertebrate tooth marks. *Coprolites are rarely found fossilized feces that provide information on animal behavior that cannot be determined from body fossils.

Godfrey, S. J., & J. B. Smith. 2010Shark-bitten vertebrate coprolites from the Miocene of Maryland. Naturwissenschaften 97(5):461467.

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