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Cambronero et al., 2023

What can be gained from studying coprolite taphonomy: the case of Villanueva-1 (Palencia, Spain)

Cambronero, I., Sevilla, P., García, N.
JournalHistorical Biology
Typearticle in journal


Coprolites are relatively common trace fossils in Quaternary sites and are used to obtain a variety of information that goes from environment reconstruction to dating sites or recovering DNA among others. However, little attention is given to taphonomic processes undergone by the coprolites that might compromise their validity as sources of information. In this paper, we present the study of the Middle Pleistocene coprolites of Villanueva-1 from a taphonomic point of view and discuss the results of the analyses performed and how the taphonomic alterations identified have an effect on palaeoecological interpretations based on these fossils. Modifications prior to burial may be determined by direct observation of shape, colour, fractures and inclusions. Some diagenetic alterations can also be inferred from colour differences, but mostly require destructive analyses in order to identify the degree of chemical and structural changes that might interfere with content preservation, such as pollen, DNA, or organic carbon for dating purposes

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