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Re: Caudipteryx gastroliths

>Now it has long been suspected that the Ornithomimids were omnivorous
>to the lack of teeth but gastroliths have never been found in
>with any of these animals.  

        During the Friday National Public Radio panel discussion on the new
feathered theropods, Phil Currie addressed this issue. Gastroliths
HAVE been found in ornithomimids, and he mentioned a new specimen from
China that preserved gastroliths in place.
        Perhaps gastroliths are not proof positive of herbivory, since
crocodilians among other aquatic reptiles (including plesiosaurs)
swallow stones and they are exclusively carnivorous. Of course, this
is not a digestive aid in these animals as much as ballast for
swimming, but it goes to show that gastroliths are not detrimental to
the digestion of meat. Certainly they could be useful in processing
little bones and hard insect exoskeletons inside a small theropod's gut.

Sam Girouard
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