About 150 million years ago in what is now Utah, an animal choked on a small frog and salamander. Then she lost her lunch. Fast forward to today, when a team of paleontologists identified and examined fossilized vomit, revealing a mystery along the way.
Researchers published a Study on vomiting in Palaios late last month. The scientists found frog bones, including some that were likely from tadpoles, and bits from salamanders. “Aspects of this new fossil, relating to the arrangement and concentration of bones in the sediment, animal mix, and bone and matrix chemistry, indicate that the bone mound was extirpated by a predator,” Utah state parks In a statement on Tuesday.
Who was vomiting? Vomiting dates back to the late Jurassic, a time when dinosaurs like the jumbo-sized Brachiosaurus and the armored Stegosaurus were still wandering. Shout out to ReBecca Hunt-Foster, a paleontologist at the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, to coin the phrase “Jurassic Barf.” However, the vomit did not come from a dinosaur.
The excavation site, famous for its plant remains, has long been a pond, home to amphibians and fish. Researchers have found that puffins are the most likely to vomit. It is possible that ancient fish were upside down to distract a predator. Utah State Parks note that paleontologists have jokingly referred to the fossil find as a “fish-vomited tadpole.”
Although it occurred several million years ago, vomiting is a common sight.
“There were three animals that we still have today, that interact in ways that are also known between those animals — prey eaten by predators and predators possibly being chased by other predators,” said study co-author John Foster, curator of the Utah Field House Museum. From the State Park Museum of Natural History. “That in and of itself shows how similar some ancient ecosystems are to places on Earth today.”
Researchers hope to find other similar fossils within the Morrison Formation in Utah, a layer of history that also preserves many dinosaur remains. Puke may not seem like the most glamorous topic of paleontology, but it’s a fascinating (and slightly gross) window into life from a long time ago.