Dinosaurs Behaviour

Eating Habits

What have paleontologists learned from dinosaur coprolites?

In coprolites thought to be from herbivorous dinosaurs, paleontologists have found quantities of cycad leaf cuticles, conifer stems, or conifer wood tissues, giving clues as to what these dinosaurs ate. Also, in some cases, the nature of the fragments shows these dinosaurs were well-equipped to chew up and digest the tough, woody food available at the time.

Several coprolites from carnivorous dinosaurs have also been found. One recent find was astounding. In 1998, near the town of Eastend, Saskatchewan, Canada, scientists found a huge coprolite that was almost as large as a loaf of bread. The 65-million-year-old coprolite measures 17 inches (43 centimeters) long and 6 inches (15 centimeters) thick and is one of the largest coprolites ever found. It is thought to be from a young Tyrannosaurus rex. The analysis of the coprolite also produced an intriguing suggestion: the remains look as if the Tyrannosaurus did not swallow the bones of its prey whole, but actually chewed and pulverized the animal’s bones. This is contrary to what paleontologists have believed for a long time, which was that these carnivores “gulped and swallowed” their prey. But the verdict is still out on the subject until they find more such coprolites.


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