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Dinosaur Coprolites and the Early Evolution of Grasses and Grazers

Science  18 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5751, pp. 1177-1180
DOI: 10.1126/science.1118806

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Abstract

Silicified plant tissues (phytoliths) preserved in Late Cretaceous coprolites from India show that at least five taxa from extant grass (Poaceae) subclades were present on the Indian subcontinent during the latest Cretaceous. This taxonomic diversity suggests that crown-group Poaceae had diversified and spread in Gondwana before India became geographically isolated. Other phytoliths extracted from the coprolites (from dicotyledons, conifers, and palms) suggest that the suspected dung producers (titanosaur sauropods) fed indiscriminately on a wide range of plants. These data also make plausible the hypothesis that gondwanatherian mammals with hypsodont cheek teeth were grazers.

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