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Dicynodont coprolites from Triassic of Poland

Ben Creisler

A new paper that may be of interest:

Piotr Bajdek, Krzysztof Owocki & Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki (2014)
Putative dicynodont coprolites from the Upper Triassic of Poland.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.06.013


Coprolites provide evidence for physiology of the Late Triassic therapsids.
Gigantism of the source dicynodont species was probably a metabolic adaptation.
Dicynodont left rather medium in size and oval-shaped faecal residues.
Coprolites suggest that dicynodonts processed plant soft elements.


A significant number (more than 100) of brown to dark and silty,
carbonate or pyrite-mineralized, in part organic carbon-rich,
spherical or oval-shaped structures have been collected from the Upper
Triassic (uppermost Norian-lower Rhaetian) sediments of the Lipie
Śląskie clay-pit at Lisowice near Lubliniec town, Poland. Their
geological context, morphology, content, geochemistry and association
with skeletal remains suggest they are faecal masses of a sizable
herbivorous tetrapod. The only large herbivore known from the site is
a giant 5 metre-long dicynodont (Synapsida: Anomodontia), represented
by numerous bones and also by large, oval-shaped footprints. The
putative dicynodont coprolites were collected from mudstone and
siltstone with numerous organic remains that were deposited in anoxic
conditions. In addition, REEs and other trace element concentrations
suggest that the burial environment and diagenesis of these coprolites
were under anoxic conditions. SEM and thin section images of the
coprolite matrix show numerous nests with pyrite (probably bacterial
in origin) and large amount of mineral particles.. The putative
dicynodont coprolites contain also amorphous, dark organic matter,
poorly preserved palynomorphs, small fragments of plant cuticle.
Detailed characteristic of these coprolites reveals possible
implications for the ecology and physiology of the source animal
species. The delta 13C values of the gymnosperm cuticle and dark
organic matter measured in three coprolites is − 23.4‰, − 21.2 ‰ and −
20.3 ‰, all average. The evidence from these coprolites suggests that
dicynodonts processed plant soft elements into very small pieces, but
wood fragments were found also in a mass accumulation in two