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2002-02-11 Il più antico vomito di sempre

Oldest fossilised vomit pile uncovered

  • 17:55 11 February 2002
  • From New Scientist Print Edition.

The world’s oldest fossilised vomit has been uncovered near the English town of Peterborough.

But far from turning up their noses, palaeontologists are excited by the discovery of “copious quantities” of Jurassic puke, says Peter Doyle of the University of Greenwich. The regurgitations came from the mouths of ichthyosaurs swimming in the waters that covered England 160 million years ago and were found by Doyle in a clay quarry.

“We believe this is the first time the existence of fossil vomit on a grand scale has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” Doyle told New Scientist.

“It shows ichthyosaurs behaved much as sperm whales do today,” he says. The marine reptiles ate their fill of belemnites, a squid-like shellfish, before vomiting the indigestible bullet-shaped shells. Modern sperm whales regurgitate the gristly beaks of squid.

“I have been confused for a while that we found the arm hooks of belemnites in ichthyosaur stomachs, but not their shells. But vomiting explains it,” he adds.

Acid etching

The evidence that the belemnite pile had once been eaten by the ichthyosaurs is that, when examined under a microscope, the calcium carbonate shells show distinctive signs of being etched by the dinosaur’s acid digestive juices.

Doyle says that they are unlikely to have been excreted in the usual way because the sharp shells would have inflicted terrible damage to the animal’s intestines.

In the Jurassic, the Peterborough clays were a shallow-water coastal feeding ground where belemnites thrived and ichthyosaurs came for a slap-up feed, before in turn being eaten by pliosaurs, says Dave Martill, a palaeontologist of the University of Portsmouth.

“Doyle’s finding is very interesting, and I think his conclusions will be proved right,” says Martill. “We know that ichthyosaurs ate belemnites. And if they ate them whole, they would have got horrendous indigestion.”

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1910-oldest-fossilised-vomit-pile-uncovered.html

settembre 20, 2008 - Posted by | - Rettili, 1 Cretaceo, P - Paleoetologia, P - Preservazione eccezionale, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , ,

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