COPROLITES (from Gr.
The name "coprolites" was accordingly given to them by Buckland, who subsequently expressed his belief that they might be found useful in agriculture on account of the calcium phosphate they contained.
The Liassic coprolites are described by Buckland as resembling oblong pebbles, or kidney-potatoes; they are mostly 2 to 4 in.
Be found dispersed through the coprolites, and sometimes the bones of small ichthyosauri, which were apparently a prey to the larger marine saurians.
Coprolites have been found at Lyme Regis, enclosed by the ribs of ichthyosauri, and in the remains of several species of fish; also in the abdominal cavities of a species of fossil fish, Macropoma Mantelli, from the chalk of Lewes.
Jager has described coprolites from the alum-slate of Gaildorf in Wurttemberg; the fish-coprolites of Burdiehouse and of Newcastle-under-Lyme are of Carboniferous age.
The bone-bed of Axmouth in Devonshire and Westbury and Aust in Gloucestershire, in the Penarth or Rhaetic series of strata, contains the scales, teeth and bones of saurians and fishes, together with abundance of coprolites; but neither there nor at Lyme Regis is there a sufficient quantity of phosphatic material to render the working of it for agricultural purposes remunerative.
The term coprolites has been made to include all kinds of phosphatic nodules employed as manures, such, for example, as those obtained from the Coralline and the Red Crag of Suffolk.
These are distinguishable from the grey Chalk coprolites by their brownish ferruginous colour and smooth appearance.
Henslow for coprolites; they were afterwards termed by Buckland "pseudo-coprolites."
The Cambridgeshire coprolites are believed to be derived from deposits of Gault age; they are obtained by washing from a stratum about a foot thick, resting on the Gault, at the base of the Chalk Marl, and probably homotaxeous with the Chloritic Marl.
Plicatulae have been found attached to these coprolites, showing that they were already hard bodies when lying at the bottom of the Chalk ocean.
The Cambridgeshire coprolites are either amorphous or finger-shaped; the coprolites from the Greensand are of a black or dark-brown colour; while those from the Gault are greenish-white on the surface, brownish-black internally.
The pseudo-coprolites of the Suffolk Crag have been estimated by Herapath to be as rich in phosphates as the true ichthyo-coprolites and saurio-coprolites of other formations, the proportion of P 2 O 5 contained varying between 12.5 and 37.25%, the average proportion, however, being 32 or 33%.
In the vicinity of Farnham it contains a bed of "coprolites" of considerable extent and 2 to 15 ft.
In thickness containing "coprolites"; these consist of phosphatized wood, bones, casts of shells, and shapeless lumps.
The Lower Greensand phosphates have been worked, under the name of " coprolites," at Potton in Bedfordshire and at Upware and Wicken in Cambridgeshire.
At the base of the Red Crag in East Anglia, and occasionally at the base of the other Pliocene Crags, there is a " nodule bed," consisting of phosphatic nodules, with rolled teeth and bones, which were formerly worked as " coprolites " for the preparation of artificial manure.
It is the principal inorganic constituent of bones, and hence of the "bone-ash" of commerce (see Phosphorus); it occurs with fluorides in the mineral apatite (q.v.); and the concretions known as coprolites largely consist of this salt.
The artificial manure known as "superphosphate of lime" consists of this salt and calcium sulphate, and is obtained by treating ground bones, coprolites, &c., with sulphuric acid.
In a natural state it is obtained from bones, guano and wood ashes; and in an artificial condition from basic slag or Thomas's phosphate, coprolites and superphosphate of lime.
By the late 1800s, superphosphates were all the rage and eighty factories were manufacturing this high-yield fertilizer from coprolites (that is, phosphate-rich fossils of ancient animal dung—I kid you not).