Multi-proxy analyses of Late Cretaceous coprolites from Germany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A total of 462 coprolites from three localities exposing Upper Cretaceous deposits in the Münster Basin, northwestern Germany, have been subjected to an array of analytical techniques, with the aim of elucidating ancient trophic structures and predator–prey interactions. The phosphatic composition, frequent bone inclusions, size and morphology collectively suggest that most, if not all, coprolites were produced by carnivorous (predatory or scavenging) vertebrates. The bone inclusions further indicate that the coprolite producers preyed principally upon fish. Putative host animals include bony fish, sharks and marine reptiles – all of which have been previously recorded from the Münster Basin. The presence of borings and other traces on several coprolites implies handling by coprophagous organisms. Remains of epibionts are also common, most of which have been identified as the encrusting bivalve Atreta. Palynological analyses of both the coprolites and host rocks reveal a sparse assemblage dominated by typical Late Cretaceous dinoflagellates, and with sub-ordinate fern spores, conifer pollen grains and angiosperm pollen grains. The dinoflagellate key taxon Exochosphaeridium cenomaniense corroborates a Cenomanian age for the Plenus Marl, from which most studied coprolites derive. The findings of this study highlight the potential of a multi-proxy approach when it comes to unravelling the origin, composition and importance of coprolites in palaeoecosystem analyses.


External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • Swedish Museum of Natural History
  • Geomuseum Faxe
  • No affiliation available (private)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology


  • Cenomanian, coprolites, Late Cretaceous, Münster Basin, palaeoecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-569
Issue number4
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

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