Scrutinizing Barremian coprolite inclusions to record digestive strategies

Sandra Barrios-de Pedro, Ángela D. Buscalioni


The exceptional preservation of the Las Hoyas coprolites allows the taphonomic study of inclusions on twelve morphotypes and twenty-three specimens. Non-destructive techniques were applied to study the digestion features (pitting, corrosion lines, shape of the fractures at the ends) and the arrangement, number, and size of inclusions. An analysis based on non-metric, multidimensional scaling ordination identified the similarities among the inclusion features and morphotypes. The morphotypes are clustered on the basis of the way of ingestion and the digestive process. The authors recognize three digestive strategies for the Las Hoyas coprolites: (1) ingestion of prey with limited processing in the mouth, scarce to less effective acid secretions, and/or defecation in a short period of time; (2) ingestion of the prey with mastication prior to deglutition, and defecation over a longer period of time; (3) mastication and long retention time of food in the digestive system with more effective acid secretions. This study is a first step in the understanding of the feeding ecology of the Las Hoyas Barremian lentic ecosystem, based on coprolites.

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