About 150 million years ago, in what is now Utah, an animal ate a small frog and a salamander. Then he lost his lunch. Fast forward to today, when a team of paleontologists identified and investigated the fossilized vomit, unraveling a mystery along the way.
The researchers published a study on vomiting in Palaios magazine at the end of last month. The scientists found frog bones, including some that likely came from a tadpole, and pieces of a salamander. “Aspects of this new fossil, related to the arrangement and concentration of the bones in the deposit, the mixture of animals, and the chemistry of the bones and matrix, suggested that the pile of bones was regurgitated by a predator.” Utah State Parks said in a statement on Tuesday.
Whose vomit was it? Vomit dates back to the late Jurassic, a time when dinosaurs like the giant-sized Brachiosaurus and armored Stegosaurus still roamed. Regards Rebecca Hunt-Foster, a paleontologist at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, for coining the phrase “Jurassic Barf.” However, the vomit did not come from a dinosaur.
The fossil site, famous for plant remains, was once a pond, home to amphibians and fish. The researchers found that a bow-finned fish vomited the most. The ancient fish may have vomited to distract a predator. Utah State Parks noted that paleontologists jokingly referred to the fossil find as the “fish-vomited tadpole.”
Despite having occurred many millions of years ago, vomiting represents a familiar scene.
“There were three animals that we still have today, interacting in ways that are also known today between those animals: prey eaten by predators, and predators perhaps being chased by other predators,” said study co-author John Foster, a Utah curator. FieldHouse. State Park Museum of Natural History. “That in itself shows how similar some ancient ecosystems were to places on Earth today.”
The researchers hope to find other similar fossils within Utah’s Morrison Formation, a layer of history that also preserves many dinosaur remains. Throwing up might not seem like the most glamorous paleontology topic, but it’s a fascinating (and slightly gross) window into life long ago.
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