Il blog dedicato ai Paleontologi !!!!

2009-06-01 – Lyme Regis, UK: trovato un nuovo Plesiosauro (new Plesiosaur)

Info in italiano: LaRepubblica


Found: The Loch Ness monster –

that lived in the English Channel and died more than 200million years ago

By Eddie Wrenn
Last updated at 8:46 AM on 01st June 2009




It roamed the English channel more than 200 million years ago.

And now the prehistoric monster has surfaced once more – in the limestone of Lyme Regis’s famous ‘Jurassic Coast’.

Excited archaeologists discovered the Loch Ness-style creature on the beach and have spent months piecing together a giant jigsaw composed of dozens of old bones to reveal the 12ft-long plesiosaur.

The Plesiosaur was discovered by archeologists at Monmouth beach in Lyme Regis - known as England's 'Jurassic coast'

The Plesiosaur was discovered by archeologists at Monmouth beach in Lyme Regis – known as England’s ‘Jurassic coast’

The famous 1934 hoax picture, which helped spread the Loch Ness legendThe monster: The famous 1934 hoax picture, which helped spread the Loch Ness legend

The marine reptile hunted the oceans with a long thin neck and tail, four large flippers and razor-sharp teeth.

It existed during the Jurassic period about 150 to 200 million years ago when what is now the Channel was a shallow, tropical sea.

The remains were discovered by fossil hunter Tracey Marler under rocks on Monmouth Beach near Lyme Regis, Dorset.

She first found a single bone in limestone. She and partner Chris Moore, an expert in fossils, returned to the scene and they found four more bones.

As experts examined the bones in detail, they were surprised to see teeth marks from where a predator dinosaur would have feasted on the carcass of the ‘lake monster’.



Fragments: The skeleton is 70 per cent complete and will soon go on display to the publicFragments: The skeleton is 70 per cent complete and will soon go on display to the public

After further excavation about 150 vertebrae bones and parts of its skull and jaw, with one tooth remaining, were uncovered.

Mr Moore said: ‘It came out in pieces but you could clearly see how it looked.

‘The tail bone was in position, and some of the back bones were completely in place where they should be and the neck bone was there as well.

‘You could see some of the bones had actually been chewed up a bit.

‘There are teeth marks and you can see how the skeleton had been torn apart by some other nasty marine reptile.’





Mr Moore added: ‘Their predator would have been the ichthyosaur which was carnivorous.’

Natural England worked closely with the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team to carefully extract the fossils.

The alternative of leaving it could have led to it being destroyed by ill-informed collectors or eventually being washed away and eroded by the sea.

Richard Edmonds, science manager for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, said: ‘There was a risk that we could have damaged the pavement by the act of removing the fossil.

‘Plesiosaur remains are rare. There are only 10 known examples of complete or even partial skeletons of this species.

‘I have been doing this for 30-odd years and I have only ever found the odd bone.

‘The specimen could not have been in a more sensitive location, in the famous and iconic ammonite pavement.’

It is hoped the skeleton, which is 70 per cent complete, will go on public display at the Lyme Regis Museum.



giugno 1, 2009 Posted by | - Plesiosauri, - Rettili, 2 Jurassic / Giurassico, An. Vertebrates, Europa, Lang. - Italiano, Mesozoic, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-01-20 – Nuovo fossile fornisce informazioni sull’evoluzione dei pesci (Fossil, fishes evolution)

Il reperto fossile (Siluriano, Herefordshire, UK) di un pesce acanthode presenta una morfologia della mandibola e del cranio che suggerice che gli Acanthodi fossero un gruppo eterogeneo, e che Squali e Placodermi siano evoluti da essi.


 Fossil illuminates jaw evolution

By Tanya Syed
BBC News

Fossil fish from Herefordshire, UK
The 415-million-year-old-fossil was excavated from Herefordshire, UK

A fossil fish is shedding light on the evolution of jawed vertebrates.

It is one of the earliest known jawed fish in the fossil record, a scientist from Uppsala University, Sweden, reports in the journal Nature.

The specimen is the first example of a well-preserved braincase of a group of extinct fish called acanthodians from the Paleozoic era.

The fossil fish was unearthed in Herefordshire, UK, in the 1940s and is an estimated 415 million years old.

The study was led by Martin Brazeau from Uppsala University in Sweden.

“Because of their superficially shark-like and bony fish-like appearance, acanthodians have played an important role in trying to elucidate the origins of modern jawed vertebrates,” he told BBC News.

Different proportions

The fossil’s dimensions differ from typical Acanthodes fossils in two important ways, Dr Brazeau explains.

The front of the preserved head is short while the back end is long.

“This is really what braincases of early sharks and armoured fish looked like,” he says.

“When we look at early bony fishes, the back end of the braincase is very short and the front end is long – which is what Acanthodes were like.”

“This figures in nicely with the emerging idea that acanthodians don’t form a group of fishes that are all closely related to each other. Some of these fossils are primitive sharks while others are primitive bony fishes.”

The study also suggests that some acanthodians are ancestors to all modern jawed vertebrates.

This is really what braincases of early sharks and armoured fish looked like.
Dr. Martin Brazeau, Uppsala University, Sweden

“We’ve already got scores of known acanthodians, but braincases are known in only one of these, belonging to the Acanthodes genus.

“Fitting them into the picture of early jawed vertebrate evolution has been extremely difficult because of the lack of data.”

“Previously, we’ve had to operate on an assumption that the braincase of the Acanthodes fossil was stereotypical for all the other acanthodians.”



The braincase and jaws of a Devonian ‘acanthodian’ and modern gnathostome origins p305

Martin D. Brazeau


See also: Editor’s summary

gennaio 20, 2009 Posted by | - Pesci / Fishes, Articolo sc. di riferimento, Europa, Italiano (riassunto), P - Evoluzione, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia, X - Nature | , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-11-25 – Skye Isle, UK: Tartarughe e Dinosauri (Turtles and Dinosaurs)

 Le imponte di dinosauri giurassici dell’Isola di Skye sono analoghe a quelle ritrovate nel Wyoming, a testimonianza di una connessione spaziale nel Giurassico tra le due aree.


Jurassic isle still has secrets

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Richard Sowersby/BBC
Dr Neil Clark said Skye is the site of significant finds about once every 10 years

Erosion will see fossils-rich Skye give up more secrets of the prehistoric past, an expert has predicted.

Dr Neil Clark, of University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, said it was one of the world’s most important paleontological sites.

Its standing is underlined by the number of finds from the Middle Jurassic, about 170 million years ago.

Evidence of the earliest turtles known to live in water has also been discovered on the isle.

Why there are so few sites is something I have thought about, but have not come up with an answer
Dr Neil Clark
Hunterian Museum

Dr Clark said: “There is always something new turning up on Skye.

“People are making finds that are maybe not new in world-wide terms but to them on an individual basis, but once every 10 years something that is very important is found.

“Skye is a very important palaeontology site.

“The cliffs on the island are quite high and not easy to get to but bad weather and erosion means fossils are being added to the beaches every year.”

In 2002, the discovery of the biggest, and best, dinosaur tracks ever found in Scotland were confirmed on Skye.

Research by Dr Clark and Dr Michael Brett-Surman, of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, US, has suggested they were left by the same dinosaurs or a similar species that once roamed Wyoming.

Last week, the discovery of the earliest turtles known to live in water was reported in the Royal Society journals.

Vital clues

The 164 million-year-old reptile fossils were found on a beach on southern Skye.

The new species forms a missing link between ancient terrestrial turtles and their modern, aquatic descendants.

Dr Clark said the island has provided vital clues to life during the Middle Jurassic.

He said: “Skye is very important for world-wide palaeontology, mainly because of the number of Middle Jurassic sites around the world is not that great.

“Why there are so few sites is something I have thought about, but have not come up with an answer.

“I guess there has not been enough exposure of the right kind of rocks and maybe because of the higher sea levels of today.”


BBC News

Jurassic Skye: When dinosaurs roamed Scottish island
Scotsman – 10 ore fa
Clark says: “The importance of this apparent link between Skye and Wyoming is that the Americans don’t actually have any dinosaur remains, apart from these footprints, from this particular period, the mid-Jurassic, whereas we have the bones of a number
Skye’s dinosaur connection to US BBC News
Dinosaur in Skye, UK Linked to Dinosaur in Wyoming, US
BBC News
e altri 13 articoli simili »

novembre 25, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, - Rettili, 2 Jurassic / Giurassico, Europa, Italiano (riassunto), P - Paleogeografia, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-11-05 – UK: nuovi paleontologi crescono !! (Emelia Fawbert, a five-years paleontologist !!!)

Emelia Fawbert, una bambina di cinque anni alla ricerca di fossili con la famiglia, ritrova una vertebra di Rinoceronte lanoso (wolly rhino) nel Gloucestershire, UK.


Five-year-old discovers Ice Age woolly rhino at first fossil hunt

By Daily Mail Reporter


 Emelia Fawbert  
Little Emelia Fawbert discovered this impressive 50,000-year-old rhino bone

A five-year-old girl has unearthed the vertebra of an Ice Age woolly rhinoceros during a fossil hunt with her family.

Emelia Fawbert found the remains of the animal that roamed the area 50,000 years ago at the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

Emelia dug up the 16-inch long bone on her first excavation with help from her father James, 33.

She was among a group of fossil hunters searching a freshly-excavated gravel pit at the park on October 26.

The atlas vertebra, which once supported the head of the fearsome creature, was poking up through the clay which had been exposed by gravel excavations.

Emelia and her father used a trowel to prise the specimen from the mud and it has now been sealed in a special protective covering before being donated to a museum.

It was the finest of numerous fossils unearthed during the hunt, which also included the leg bone and vertebra from an Ice Age deer and the remains of squid-like creatures from the Jurassic period, some 150 million years ago.

Emilia’s grandfather Geoffrey Fawbert, 61 said of her find: ‘It looked impressive but none of us had a clue what it was until the experts told us.’

Emilia hopes to become a paleontologist when she grows older.


novembre 5, 2008 Posted by | - Mammiferi, Curiosità, Europa, Italiano (riassunto), P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-27 – Moray, UK: Impronte di dinosauri in TV (dinosaur footprints, TV, BBC)

Impronte di Dinosauri ritrovate a Moray nel Regno Unito stasera protagoniste sulla BBC


fossils to be part of BBC film about geology

Moray dinosaur footprints to feature on TV

Published: 27/10/2008

The footprint trails at Clashach Quarry, near Hopeman, will be part of a film about geology in Moray.

Some of the fossils in the area are more than 250 million years old.

Drew Baillie, of Moray Stone Cutters, which owns the quarry, was interviewed for the programme.

He said: “It’s actually the 10th anniversary of when the display at Clashach was opened. It is quite popular as kids are obviously interested in the whole dinosaur thing.

“Hopefully this programme will help get Moray on the map.”

Sandstone from the Moray quarry has been used for Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona and as part of the British Memorial Garden to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attack.

David Addison, curator of Elgin Museum, was also interviewed about the collection’s many fossils of reptile and dinosaur species from the Permian to Triassic periods – some unique to the Moray area.

These include Elginia Mirabilis, Dicynodon Traquairi and Saltopus Elginensis.

The programme will be shown on BBC1 at 7pm tonight.


ottobre 27, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, Italiano (riassunto), P - Impronte, Paleontology / Paleontologia, TV | , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-24 – UK: Riscoperto dopo 150 anni sito con resti fossili eccezionalmente preservati (exceptional fossil preservation)

In Gran Bretagna riscoperto dopo 150 anni un sito che aveva fornito numerosi eccezionali ritrovamenti di pescsi e calamari con resti di parti molli risalenti al Giurassico.
October 24, 2008

 Jurassic treasure trove lost by Victorians found by Phil Wilby, fossil sleuth

Phil Wilby
 [Photo: Phil Wilby with a fossilised ammonite found at the site near Christian Malford]

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One of the world’s most valuable fossil beds has been rediscovered, having been forgotten during Victorian times. Fossils recovered near Christian Malford in Wiltshire caused a sensation when they were unearthed in 1840 because they were the first to include the flesh of Jurassic wildlife.

Phil Wilby, of the British Geological Survey, has now rediscovered the site and led the first dig there in more than 150 years. He hopes that freshly recovered fossils can help to explain why tens of thousands of animals died simultaneously in episodes repeated many times over about a million years.

Fossil hunters and academics flocked to the area in the 1840s and 1850s to dig out extraordinarily well-preserved specimens of fish and squid-like creatures. But despite its importance as an extremely rare source of fossilised soft tissues preserved along with hard bones and shells, the location of the site was lost.

None of the Victorians who visited the site, even leading researchers from universities and museums, recorded the precise place and, when digging ended, the location was forgotten.





Original scientific article:

Volume 24 Issue 3, Pages 95 - 98

Geology Today

Geology Today – Volume 24 Issue 3, Pages 95 – 98

Preserving the unpreservable: a lost world rediscovered at Christian Malford, UK

Philip R. Wilby 1 , Keith Duff 2 , Kevin Page 3 & Susan Martin 1
 1 British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, UK.;   2 Department of Geology, University of Leicester, Bennett Building, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK.   3 School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK.
Copyright © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

The small village of Christian Malford, Wiltshire (UK) is known to palaeontologists the world over because of the chance discovery of an astonishing fossil bonanza in the mid-nineteenth century. Pits in the Jurassic Oxford Clay yielded thousands of specimens of exquisitely preserved ammonites, fish and crustaceans, but became most famous for squid-like cephalopods and belemnites (collectively termed coleoids) with fossilized soft-parts. The precise location of the find has remained obscure, until now, and a new attempt is underway to understand the ancient environment that triggered this unusual preservation.

Published Online: 6 May 2008

ottobre 24, 2008 Posted by | - Pesci / Fishes, 2 Jurassic / Giurassico, Articolo sc. di riferimento, Curiosità, Europa, Italiano (riassunto), P - Preservazione eccezionale, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-18: La nuova serie BBC “Fossil Detectives” e la sua conduttrice Hermione Cockburn

In Gran Bretagna parte sulla rete BBC 2 una nuova serie di documentari dedicati alla Paleontologia e ai fossili intitolata “Fossil Detectives”.

Nell’articolo riportato sotto (in inglese) le considerazioni della conduttrice, la geologa Hermione Cockburn.

Esplora i link per informazioni e video sulla serie.

Hermione meets the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace

Hermione meets the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace


Supporta questo Blog comprando il libro ufficiale della serie:

(support this Blog buying the official book)


Discovering Prehistoric Britain
The Fossil Detectives: Discovering Prehisto…
by Hermione Cockburn


Hermione finds her love on the rocks

Published Date: 18 October 2008

TO the casual observer, the pile of rocks neatly arranged on Hermione Cockburn’s breakfast table looks, well, like a rather unremarkable pile of rocks.
But as the one-time Edinburgh academic and now TV presenter reaches for one, her eyes suddenly light up.

She has just finished travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles making a new series, Fossil Detectives, for the BBC and sees the shiny pebble in her hand as a remnant of a lost world in which dinosaurs roamed the Earth and even David Attenborough had yet to make a natural history documentary.

Indeed, the grand old man of the Beeb’s factual programming department is just one of a host of fellow fossil enthusiasts who Hermione met while filming.

Former Blur bass player and now full-time country gent Alex James and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg also helped delve into Britain’s pre-history.

“David Attenborough’s my hero,” says Hermione. “I got to meet him and interview him for the programme because he’s had a lifelong interest in fossils. He has a fantastic collection and I was able to go to his house and sit on his sofa to talk about them – it was wonderful.”

Attenborough’s skill for storytelling and the special place afforded him in the nation’s heart is

‘Whole foundation of modern geology began in Edinburgh’

something Hermione would no doubt love to emulate.

The 35-year-old, who grew up in Sussex, came to the Capital in 1990 to study geography at Edinburgh University and later went on to complete a PhD in geomorphology, the study of how land is formed.

For most, that would have led to a career and a life spent marvelling over rocks alongside fellow academics.

But thanks to a competition launched by the now defunct Tomorrow’s World – a contest which Hermione describes as an X Factor for academics – she won a chance to present a range of BBC documentaries including What the Ancients Did For Us and Coast.

Hermione’s eventual triumph in the BBC talent competition came after she won a telephone vote, having already wowed the Simon Cowells of the natural history department with her discussion of a lump of fossilised wood which showed there were once trees on Antarctica.

Her relative youth no doubt helped ease out some of the crustier specimens lurking in universities up and down the land, but her infectious enthusiasm is undeniable.

“It was amazing being in front of the cameras for the first time, really thrilling.” she says. “It gave me a real insight into how TV works. I found that whole experience fantastic and I gradually went on to do more and more pieces for the BBC, including some stuff for Radio 4.”

Ask Hermione about a trip to Loch Ness during the making of Fossil Detectives and she quickly dismisses Nessie in favour of the “more interesting” topic of how the bottom of the loch can be used to chart deforestation, the birth of agriculture and even the impacts of fallout from the Chernobyl disaster.

“I love the story of the Loch Ness Monster and I like the idea that people can go there and think about it,” she says.

“But, for me, the science is the more interesting story. The bottom of the loch is like the rings of a tree – there’s stuff there that tells us about the history of our world.

“I think fossils are one of those subjects where people just go ‘ugh’, but when you actually see them close up they’re absolutely fascinating. I still get really excited when I find a fossil, and people who have never gone looking for fossils don’t know what a treat they’re missing.”

The filming for the show also took Hermione to Yorkshire, where she abseiled down a rocky outpost to give viewers a close-up view of a dinosaur fossil.

“I don’t think the excitement of finding a fossil is something which ever really leaves you. For me, it’s like unearthing a piece of buried treasure,” she adds.

She has also been working on a series called Nature of Britain in which she shows viewers how volunteers are working in our communities to establish and take care of nature reserves.

When she’s not making TV programmes, Hermione loves to be outdoors and is a keen hillwalker and gardener.

It was when she was surfing with her university sweetheart Jon on a freezing day at Coldingham Bay in East Lothian in 2002 that he asked her to marry him. The couple now live in Tollcross.

“The best things about fossils is the link to the past and these mysterious lost worlds,” she continues. “They’re not just dusty old stones. People should just watch the series and see what they think. From the feedback I’ve had so far people have really enjoyed it and it seems to have quite a broad appeal.”

The good news for fossil fans is that the geology of Scotland is more varied than any other country of comparable size anywhere else in the world.

It was in Edinburgh in the 18th century that James Hutton developed his theories on the age of the Earth while studying the rock formations of Salisbury Crags.

From his work in Holyrood Park, Hutton deduced the Earth was far older then anyone had previously imagined.

“The whole foundation of modern geology began in Edinburgh with James Hutton and there were people like Hugh Miller who amassed a huge fossil collection,” Hermione says.

“For those interested in learning more about fossils, we have the National Museum on Chambers Street and Our Dynamic Earth also has a good collection.”

Hermione again reaches for a specimen from her miniature rock pile on the kitchen table. She turns it over in her palm, showing me the furrowed lines of some long-forgotten organism preserved forever in its stony surround.

Her eyes are shining once again.

The first episode of Fossil Detectives will be shown on BBC 2 at 7pm on Tuesday, October 28. Visit for more details.

ottobre 18, 2008 Posted by | Europa, Italiano (riassunto), Paleontology / Paleontologia, TV | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-08-21 – Campo di caccia per belemniti (Belemnotheutis), Giurassico, Gran Bretagna

‘Calamari killing field’ fossils found in sea that covered middle England

By Paul Eccleston

Last Updated: 4:01pm BST 21/08/2008



Scientists have unearthed evidence of a Jurassic killing field in a sea that once covered a wide area of middle England.

  • Fish fossil is oldest to have ‘fun sex’
  • Dinosaur professor to lure tourists with fossils
  • Missing link fossil settles frog evolution debate

    Fossil evidence points to cataclysmic events which would have killed millions of fish and other soft-bodied marine creatures.

  • Complete specimen of the largely soft-bodied squid-like creature  Belemnotheutis clasping a fish in its arms; collected in the mid-nineteenth century

    Complete specimen of the largely soft-bodied squid-like creature Belemnotheutis clasping a fish in its arms; collected in the mid-nineteenth century

     In turbulent environmental conditions 160m years ago the waters may have been poisoned by a volcanic eruption or suddenly deprived of oxygen wiping out much of the sea life.

    Dramatic and newly discovered fossil images reveal how voracious squid-like creatures were lured to the area to feed on the huge numbers of dead fish. Some held prey in their tentacles at the very moment they also succumbed in the deadly waters.

    The scientists believe it developed into a predator-trap in which victims acted as a draw on new shoals entering the area before they were themselves overcome in a perpetual deadly cycle.

    The Jurassic Oxford Clay provided almost unique conditions for the preservation of ammonites, fish and crustaceans but became world famous for squid-like cephalopods and belemnites with fossilized soft-parts.

    There are only a handful of areas in the world where creatures have been preserved in this way.

    Soft-bodied creatures such as worms and jellyfish probably dominated marine ecosystems at the time but they rarely show up in the fossil record because they decompose and vanish. Much more is known about creatures with decay-resistant hard-parts, such as bones, teeth or shells.

    But in some areas – such as the rediscovered site in Wiltshire which the ancient sea once covered – the normal process of decay didn’t happen and outlines of anatomy – even soft flesh areas such as gut, muscle and eye – were perfectly preserved partly because of the chemical make-up of the sediment.

    The areas are known as Fossil Lagerstätten and provide a much more accurate picture of ancient ecosystems.

    The site – discovered by chance as the Great Western Railway was constructed in the 1840s – provided a fossil bonanza for palaeontologists.

    Many of the best fossils were removed and taken to London for safety but ironically were destroyed in German air raids a century later.

    Because of its rich resources the location of the site was jealously guarded by a local carpenter who was an amateur fossil hunter. He collected many of the samples but provided misleading information about the exact location of the site and took his secret to the grave.

    Over time the railways cuttings became overgrown and flooded and were eventually lost.

    But now they have been rediscovered by scientists from the British Geological Society (BGS) and their work will form part of The Fossil Detectives an eight-part series for BBC FOUR, funded by The Open University (OU) and produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, BBC TV series.

    In the programmes Dr Hermione Cockburn, an associate lecturer with the OU, leads a team of fossil experts and geologists around Britain looking for the best fossil treasures and mysteries.

    Celebrity fossil hunters such as Sir David Attenborough, musician and writer Alex James, and singer/songwriter Billy Bragg also make appearances.

    Prior to the new excavation it was unknown whether all of the fossil squid collected in the 1840s had come from one or more level but it showed for the first time that the squid were concentrated at several different levels proving that mass mortality events repeatedly hit the area killing vast numbers of the squid and fish.

    The prehistoric shallow sea covered an area from Lincolnshire to Dorset and was bordered by coastal swamps where dinosaurs would have roamed.

    Dr Phil Wilby of the BGS described the area as ‘a calamari killing field’.

    He said it would have been an unstable environment in which the bottom waters continually switched from being able to support life to becoming hostile to life with fluctuations in oxygen level a constant threat.

    “As a preservation site for soft-bodied creatures it is as good as it comes and is recognised by palaeontologists the world over. What we don’t yet know what triggered the preservation. It may be that there was a build up of phosphorous in the sediment and when the creatures died and sank into it the chemical structure was changed,” he said.

  • The Fossil Detectives is being shown on BBC Four beginning on Thursday August 21.
  • settembre 20, 2008 Posted by | - Molluschi, 2 Jurassic / Giurassico, Europa, P - Preservazione eccezionale, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , | 1 commento

    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.”

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