In a recent study from the journal Palaios, a group of paleontologists announced that they discovered a "small regurgitalite" from the Jurassic period in southeastern Utah.
In other words, it's dinosaur puke. But the first pile of dinosaur puke to be found that dates back 150 million years!
This is of interest not just because of any potential Jurassic Barf jokes that one could mine from the circumstances. Rather, as the scientists explain, it's what's in the fossilized vomit that really matters — specifically, the remains of frog- and salamander-related specimens that appear to be newly discovered as well:
The lissamphibian material in the bromalite [ED: puke] represents the southernmost likely occurrence of frogs and salamanders in the formation. The possible salamander material may represent a rare juvenile rather than a new taxon, and it is morphologically more similar to Valdotriton and Comonecturoides than it is to Iridotriton. The frog material is similarly unidentifiable to specific taxon.
In an interview with Vice, lead researcher John Foster expanded on this discovery:
"We didn't immediately recognize it for what it was, and in fact, we didn't even realize it was bone until much later, back at the museum, when we looked at it under a microscope and saw that it was tiny bones and not a badly preserved plant fossil," Foster said in an email. "When we realized that the pile of bones appeared to represent at least three individuals and likely two different types of amphibians we really started to think that something was up and this wasn't just a 'typical' few bones of small vertebrates. Somehow these bones had gotten concentrated."
"With no mechanical process we could identify in a small, quiet lake setting, we started looking for biological causes, and that's when we began to suspect that the pile of bones had come out of a predator," he continued. "Then we needed to determine, essentially, which end it came out of."
And then he goes onto explain how they determined it was fossilized dino-puke and not fossilized dino-poop. Which is oddly fascinating to be honest.
Significance of a Small Regurgitalite Containing Lissamphibian Bones, From The Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic), Within a Diverse Plant Locality Deposit in Southeastern Utah, USA [John R. Foster, Adrian P. Hunt, and James I. Kirkland / Palaois]
Paleontologists Find 150-Million-Year-Old Jurassic Barf in Utah [Becky Ferreira / Vice]