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RE: Bones and stomach acid
Croc stomach acid generally dissolves bone either completely or at least to
a paste-like residue, which may sometimes be remineralized after being
excreted (I know of only a couple of examples from Riversleigh, but
frequency of preservation may vary a lot with conditions). There's usually
not much structure in these coprolites, but there are reported cases of
mammal teeth (sans enamel) being found in them: the collagen matrix in
dentine can survive digestion, then be remineralized after deposition (I
have the reference somewhere, but not handy).
Similarly, snakes digest bones completely but pass fur, feathers and
(squamate) scales. No snake coprolites have been reported as far as I know.
If one of these animals dies with food partly digested in the stomach, more
or less strong acid-etching would be seen on the bones, but (because you
only die once) most semi-digested bones in the fossil record probably come
from other taxa with weaker acids.
Dr John D. Scanlon, FCD
Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Outback at Isa
"Get this $%#@* python off me!", said Tom laocoönically.
From: Richard W. Travsky [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 18 August, 2010 2:59 PM
Subject: Bones and stomach acid
Came across a bit of croc trivia - they're supposed to have the strongest
stomach acid of any vertrebrate (or so).
What would stomach acid affected bones look like? Are they discernible in
the fossil record?