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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
- 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
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
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.
"MUTATIO SOLUM PERPETUUM EST!"
Institut fuer Palaeontologie
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