Abstract

A small (3.4 cm) coprolite from the Upper Cretaceous (middle Campanian age) Coachman Formation in South Carolina, contains six cervical vertebrae from a very small, freshwater, trionychid turtle. Four of the vertebrae included in the coprolite are aligned and partly articulated. The coprolite shows typical selachian heteropolar shape with traces of spiral morphology, and is attributed to one of several common lamniform shark taxa in the associated marine fauna, most probably Squalicorax kaupi. Based on the minute size of the included vertebrae, with the largest 4.5 mm long, the turtle must have been very small and likely newly hatched. Assuming the selachian producing the specimen was a marine or estuarine species, this coprolite specimen indicates that the shark was feeding in or proximal to a fluvial environment, as observed in modern species of Carcharhinus. Given the small size of the coprolite, the shark was likely also small, suggesting that a juvenile Late Cretaceous shark was feeding far upstream, perhaps near its pupping area.

You do not currently have access to this article.