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gastrolith research

greetings colleagues,

i'm currently starting a ph.d. project (with dr martin sander in bonn) about gastroliths of sauropods from tendaguru in tanzania and the morrison formation in the usa.
of course i have to get a general view about gizzard stones and have to examine these stones at marine reptiles as well. i will compare terrestrial and marine tetrapods to get a better understanding of the whole topic. even if the diet and probably the function were so different...

some questions for my project are:

- are all these stones really gastroliths?
- which methods of investigation are possible to proof the authenticity of gastroliths (laser, electron microscope etc.)?
- which purpose did they had?
- in which part of the digestion system where these stones be found?
- are there the same characteristics of the used rock-types / size etc. at different reptile species and even in one species?
- why do not all individuals of one species have gastroliths?
- which predication is possible for the nutriment and for the process of digestion?
- is it possible to decide the origin of these rocks and, if so, is it maybe possible to prove any migrational movements of these animals?

well, there are still a lot of questions to answer...

... and to do so, i have a few questions for the scientific community:

who is doing some research on gastroliths at the moment or has done it in the past?
who is interested in cooperation?
which museums have (preferably well documented) material and would me let work with it?
who knows about any unique or unusual or just interesting specimen with stomach stones?
what about strange stomach contents (e.g. fossilized wood)?

i know that research on gastroliths will be difficult and that some results of my research may be scanty. nevertheless i believe this topic may help to reveal some interesting new facts.

oliver wings

----------------------------------- "MUTATIO SOLUM PERPETUUM EST!"

Oliver Wings
Institut fuer Palaeontologie
D-91054 Erlangen
phone:   +49-9141-2933
Fax:     +49-9131-8522690
Email:   olliwings@hotmail.com

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