US scientists came across unusual rock fragments in the country’s state of Wyoming. While the stone’s origin has remained a mystery for years, the latest study has shown that they came from Morrison rock, which was formed in the prehistoric period, 1,700 kilometers away. The researchers suggested that giant dinosaurs called Sauropods, who lived 150 million years ago, may have brought stones to the area.
Scientist Jashua Malone, who visited a field research camp in the US state of Wyoming in the summer of 2017 and took some rock samples, wondered where the stones with rounded edges came from. As a result of their research, Molane came across a surprising result about stones with his mesteklashes four years later.
In the study, published in the journal Terra Nova, researchers and colleagues saw that the stones came from a rock formation in southern Wisconsin, about 1,700 kilometers east of their location. It was concluded that these might have been transported in the intestines of long-necked dinosaurs.
These animals, known as sauropods, could reach over 30 meters in length and weigh 40 tons, and regularly ingest rocks known as gastroliths (gastroliths) to help them digest plants, as some birds and reptiles do today. The authors of the study also stated that their hypothesis could explain how rocks acquired their smooth and round texture.
Gastroliths were found in Jurassic aged mudstones in a rock formation called Morrison. The Morrison formation of pink and red stones is an area filled with dinosaur fossils, including sauropods such as Barosaurus and Diplodocus, as well as meat eaters such as Allosaurus.
But unlike gastroliths excavated elsewhere, the new stones were found on their own, without any dinosaur remains. The team crushed the rocks to extract and date the zircon crystals inside to get a clue of how the stones came to Wyoming.
Malone, a doctoral student at the University of Texas, said, “What we found was that the zircon ages inside these gastroliths had different age ranges with rocks in southern Wisconsin. “No such study had actually been done before using this technique to suggest long-distance dinosaur migration, so it was a really exciting moment for us.”
However, the Wisconsin-Wyoming connection points to a hike hundreds of kilometers longer than previous estimates for sauropod migrations. Changing seasons can trigger migrations as animals move in search of food and water. Michael D’Emic, co-author of the study from Adelphi University in New York, said sauropods, in particular, would need huge amounts of these resources to survive.
“Sauropods have grown rapidly to reach their unique size. This means their caloric needs are enormous, so given the environments in which they live, it is not surprising that they have to migrate long distances in search of food.” said.
But other scientists said that since the rock fragments were not found next to any real dinosaur remains, more data would be needed to prove the correctness of the article’s hypothesis. “Unfortunately, we have no real evidence that these fragments were indeed ancient gastroliths. We cannot exclude the possibility that the stones were transported in the stomach of dinosaurs, but this is only one of several possibilities,” said Oliver Wings, geologist and paleontologist of the vertebrate paleontologist at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. Nevertheless, Dr. Wings believes the team’s new technique opened the door for paleontologists, particularly other gastroliths preserved with real dinosaur skeletons.