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coprolite

[kop-ruh-lahyt] /ˈkɒp rəˌlaɪt/
noun
1.
a stony mass consisting of fossilized fecal matter of animals.
Origin
1820-1830
1820-30; copro- + -lite
Related forms
coprolitic
[kop-ruh-lit-ik] /ˌkɒp rəˈlɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for coprolite
  • The team also found a fossilized shark tooth embedded in the outside of a coprolite.
British Dictionary definitions for coprolite

coprolite

/ˈkɒprəˌlaɪt/
noun
1.
any of various rounded stony nodules thought to be the fossilized faeces of Palaeozic-Cenozoic vertebrates
Derived Forms
coprolitic (ˌkɒprəˈlɪtɪk) adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for coprolite
n.

fossil dung, 1829, from copro- + -lite, from French, for -lithe, from Greek lithos "stone" (see litho-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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coprolite in Science
coprolite
  (kŏp'rə-līt')   
Fossilized excrement. Analysis of the fossilized animal and plant remains within coprolites provides important information about the diet and environment of ancient biota.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for coprolite

the fossilized excrement of animals. The English geologist William Buckland coined the term in 1835 after he and fossilist Mary Anning recognized that certain convoluted masses occurring in the Lias rock strata of Gloucestershire and dating from the Early Jurassic Period (200 million to 176 million years ago) had a form that would have been produced by their passage in the soft state through the intestines of reptiles or fishes. These bodies had long been known as fossil fir cones and bezoar stones (hardened undigestible contents of the intestines). Buckland's conjecture that they were of fecal origin and similar to the excrement of hyenas was confirmed upon analysis; they were found to consist essentially of calcium phosphate and carbonate, and they not infrequently contained fragments of unaltered bone. The name coprolites, from the Greek kopros ("dung") and lithos ("stone"), was accordingly given them by Buckland. Coprolites often preserve the remains of plants and small animals that would otherwise be destroyed or lost. They are therefore important sources of concentrated information about ancient biota and environments.

Learn more about coprolite with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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