Coprolite

A coprolite (also known as a coprolith) is fossilized feces. Coprolites are classified as trace fossils as opposed to body fossils, as they give evidence for the animal's behaviour (in this case, diet) rather than morphology. The name is derived from the Greek words κόπρος (kopros, meaning "dung") and λίθος (lithos, meaning "stone"). They were first described by William Buckland in 1829. Prior to this they were known as "fossil fir cones" and "bezoar stones". They serve a valuable purpose in paleontology because they provide direct evidence of the predation and diet of extinct organisms.[1] Coprolites may range in size from a few millimetres to over 60 centimetres.

A large coprolite of a carnivorous dinosaur found in Harding County, South Dakota, USA. Photo courtesy of the Poozeum
A large Miocene coprolite from South Carolina, USA.
A large coprolite (fossilized feces) from South Carolina, USA.
Age: White River Oligocene; Location: Northwest Nebraska; Dimensions: Varies (25 mm X 20 mm); Weight: 8-10 g; Features: Many small inclusions and one has a complete toe bone from a small deer called a leptomeryx.

Coprolites, distinct from paleofeces, are fossilized animal dung. Like other fossils, coprolites have had much of their original composition replaced by mineral deposits such as silicates and calcium carbonates. Paleofeces, on the other hand, retain much of their original organic composition and can be reconstituted to determine their original chemical properties, though in practice the term coprolite is also used for ancient human faecal material in archaeological contexts.[2][3][4]