From the time when coprolites are deposited to when they are preserved, there are many processes that can affect them. These processes can completely change a coprolites appearence, making them very hard to identify. In 1992, Hunt devised a criterion by which coprolites can be identified. There are 11 categories used to distinguish coprolites and they are as follows:

    Extrusive external morphology
    Internal structure is ordered (ex. Spiral)
    Longitudinal/spiral striations
    Morphology similar to animal gut
    Morphology reflects viscosity seen in modern feces
    Flattening of ventral side
    Inclusions of organic matter
    Composition of calcium phosphate
    Very fine-grained matrix
    Vertical relief in shale which distorts laminae
    Preserved in sedimentary rock

NMC 35799 *

   One of the major factors influencing preservation is fecal decomposition. Fecal material is a haven for small organisms. In carnivorous and onmivorous feces, breakdown is common by bacteria and fungal activity. Breakdown in herbivorous scat is taken care of mostly by invertebrate scavengers and a little microbial activity.