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Coprolites, Gastroliths & Vertebra 2017-04-06T21:08:05+00:00

Misc Parts, Plates and Poopie Pieces

This is a really nice coprolite! (Fossil poop). I thought I would start at the bottom first on this page. This particular ichnofossil is just a trace of the organism that left it behind. It shows wonderful marks of the muscle that squeezed it on its way out of the extruding canal. It has no visible sign of bones within so it might have been from a vegetarian. Fossil sinkers this nice are hard to find. The scale behind is in inch squares.

These stones are actually gastroliths. Dinosaurs oftens swallowed rocks to help their digestive process in grinding up food matter. These quartzitic rocks are usually found associated with bone deposits and sometimes help find other fossils. They are out of place here in sandstone country with the nearest source of this kind of rock being at least a hundred miles away. Something had to bring them here to weather out of 65 million year old sediment. They all have a characteristic semi-gloss surface texture from being tumbled in a dino’s gut. The grid behind show inch squares.

Ken Carpenter (Curator of Small Vertebrates) at the Denver Museum of Natural History identified this claw (pez ungual) as belonging to (perhaps) Aspideretes sp. This is a rather large variety of soft shelled turtle that was around during the Cretaceous.

Another view of this nice specimen. I found the tip of this claw and looked like mad for the rest of it for about half an hour and finally gave up. Earlier I had found what I thought was a bone end (covered in sand and rounded) without the shaft in talus. I had that bone end in a pile to throw out. When I picked it up to set it in the out bucket, a lightbulb went off, I hunted down the claw end and they fit perfectly together. This fossils was seconds away from being lost. Pure luck was on its side.


Some people have too much time on their hands and try to make random things into pictures. They call it art I think. These are all turtle pieces and parts that have come off of two microsites in particular. Several species and many different parts are represented. Nothing is in its natural anatomic position here however. The photo area is two feet across.

This collection of misc vertebra have all come out of a 20 foot vertical section of Hell Creek and are essentially time and sedimentary coterminous. The size of the river running through this particular part of the section was significant. Individual pods of sediment are cut into by succeeding river environments. This collection has perhaps 20 species represented within from turtle, champsosaur, salamander, mammal, reptile and fish. The scale is two feet across.

Amber is not common in the Hell Creek on my ranch. I do find it occasionally insitu (in place) but the large chunk to the lower left was a surficial find and might be modern. It is pretty hard though. None of the amber I have found to date has had any insects within. The image area is 4 inches across.

This piece of amber came from near the very top of the Cretaceous out of Hell Creek. Most of the material is not this large. It has been tested as is indeed amber and not Copalite.