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A king-sized theropod coprolite

Nature

By:
, , , and
DOI: 10.1038/31461

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Abstract

Fossil faeces (coprolites) provide unique trophic perspectives on ancient ecosystems. Yet, although thousands of coprolites have been discovered, specimens that can be unequivocally attributed to carnivorous dinosaurs are almost unknown. A few fossil faeces have been ascribed to herbivorous dinosaurs, but it is more difficult to identify coprolites produced by theropods because other carnivorous taxa coexisted with dinosaurs and most faeces are taxonomically ambiguous. Thus sizeable (up to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide) phosphatic coprolites from Belgium and India that have been attributed to dinosaurs might have been produced by contemporaneous crocodylians or fish. But there is no ambiguity about the theropod origin of the Cretaceous coprolite we report here. This specimen is more than twice as large as any previously reported carnivore coprolite, and its great size and temporal and geographic context indicate that it was produced by a tyrannosaur, most likely Tyrannosaurus rex. The specimen contains a high proportion (30-50%) of bone fragments, an it rare tangible evidence of theropod diet and digestive processes.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
A king-sized theropod coprolite
Series title:
Nature
DOI:
10.1038/31461
Volume
393
Issue:
6686
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Nature
First page:
680
Last page:
682