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Ancient whale coprolites, fault slickensides, shergottites, Ediacara, and Cascadia
Date:7/31/2013

, biogenically induced structures in Pleistocene marine deposits: A first record of fossil ambergris
Angela Baldanza et al., Department of Earth Sciences, University of Perugia, Piazza Universit, 06123 Perugia, Italy. Published 30 July 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G34731.1.

This article deals to the discovery of unknown, enigmatic trace fossils in marine clay deposits about 1.75 million years ago in central Italy (Umbria Region). Some hypotheses about their origin are considered, but the most convincing explanation stands in the close similarity with large masses of present-day ambergris (known as "floating gold"), a solid, waxy, dull grey or blackish flammable substance usually associated with sperm whales. Preliminary chemical data reveal the presence of organic molecules compatible with mammalian gastric or intestinal activity. Squid beaks are also found. Most of the geological, paleontological, and chemical results allow the identification of these structures as intestinal products of sperm whales living about 1.75 million years ago. At this time, they represent the only known example worldwide of Pleistocene sperm whale "coprolites," and enhance the knowledge about the cetacean frequentation of the ancient Mediterranean Sea.


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Contact: Kea Giles
kgiles@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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