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Gastric pellets in the fossil record



From: Ben Creisler
bh480@scn.org

A new article online. I don't have access to the text at the moment.  I
posted links a few weeks back to news stories in German about Emausaurus
that suggested the fossil bones had been regurgitated by a crocodile. I
also recall a cluster of fossil bird bones thought to be regurgitated by a
pterosaur (http://dinosaurs.nhm.org/staff/pdf/2001Sanz_et_al.PDF).

Nathan P. Myhrvold (2011)
A call to search for fossilised gastric pellets.
DOI:10.1080/08912963.2011.631703
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08912963.2011.631703

Abstract
Numerous extant carnivorous, piscivorous and insectivorous species--
including birds, pinnipeds, varanid lizards and crocodiles and
mammals--routinely ingest food combined with a high proportion of
indigestible material that can be neither absorbed through digestion nor
eliminated as faecal matter. Their solution is to egest the indigestible
portion through the mouth as a gastric pellet. The status of gastric
pellets in extant species is reviewed. Arguments based on phylogeny,
anatomy and biomechanics strongly suggest that many extinct species,
including crocodilians and pterosaurs, may also have produced gastric
pellets routinely. The term ?emetolite? is proposed for fossilised gastric
pellets produced by routine emesis. Unfortunately, few reports of
emetolites have been made; those specimens reported to date are reviewed.
Various hypotheses may explain this negative result, the strongest being a
collection bias. Because paleontologists do not expect to find them,
emetolites may go unrecognised or uncollected or could be destroyed
inadvertently during preparation. Emetolites would offer a valuable fossil
record, and thus they warrant consideration by field paleontologists and
preparators. A greater awareness of their probable characteristics may lead
us to discover that they are more abundant than has been assumed.


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