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Early Triassic coprolites from Australia and their palaeobiological significance

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Coprolites from the Arcadia Formation, Queensland, Australia, were studied in conjunction with the vertebrate fossil assemblages from two localities to maximize our understanding of the palaeoecology of these Early Triassic deposits. Criteria used by other researchers to identify the producers of coprolites were found to be of little value in the Arcadia Formation specimens. Using a combination of shape, biostratigraphic distribution, size and included remains some of the coprolites are attributed to basal archosauromorphs and fish whereas others could not be identified. Perhaps the most important attribute of the Arcadia coprolites is that they preserved rare organisms such as cyanobacteria, insects and other arthropods, and a diversity of fish. Estimates of the number of actinopterygians and dipnoans preserved in coprolites significantly increased relative abundance estimates based on skeletal elements alone. Although coprolites are an important source of palaeobiological information, this information is limited by our poor understanding of the taphonomic processes involved in the fossilization of faecal matter and by the near impossibility of assigning coprolites to specific producers.
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Keywords: Arcadia Formation; Early Triassic; coprolites; palaeoecology; taphonomy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: †Department of Zoology, School of Life Sciences, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086, Australia;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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