vp13919.jpg (39927 bytes)

Moodie, R. L.




Science N. S. 35(897): 377-378.

Copyright 2002-2009 by Mike Everhart

Page created 01/14/2002; Last updated 09/18/2009


LEFT: Thirteen probable gastroliths (FHSM VP-13919) found in the lower Smoky Hill Chalk , Gove County, KS.

Wherein Roy Moodie discusses gastroliths in general, and notes the occurrence of gastroliths discovered within the remains of a large shark (Cretoxyrhina mantelli; KUVP 68979) in the collection of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas.  The remains were recovered from the lower chalk near Hackberry Creek in Trego County by H. T. Martin. See Shimada (1997) and Everhart (2000) for more information about this unusual specimen.

March 8, 1912]                                       SCIENCE                                                                377


    Gastroliths have been known to occur, mingled with the remains of extinct reptiles, for many years and much attention has been called to them in the pages of SCIENCE and elsewhere, especially by Mudge, Seeley, Williston, Eastman, Wieland and Brown. Interesting parallels have been cited among several living vertebrates. There has been some contention that the stones were taken for the purpose of a "gastric mill," but they were in part at least accidental. There seems to be some evidence for the conclusion that the plesiosaurs, at least, selected stones for this purpose, though this may have been more accidental than we think. Recently there has been brought to my attention by Mr. Edward Taylor, of the University of Kansas, au interesting case of stone swallowing by a lizard,. Phrynosoma cornutum Harlan. Only a single specimen is at hand for the data, but it is of sufficient interest in connection with identical habits among fossil reptiles to be recorded. The horned "toad" in question is a very large adult female collected by the late Dr. F. H. Snow in the Magdalen Mountains of New Mexico. In the stomach were twenty large, somewhat abraded stones of a rock which resembled lava. Some of the stones are very large, for the size of the animal, measuring nearly a third of an inch in diameter. There were also in the stomach about 200 of the large red ants, of an undetermined species, which make the large mounds so common to the western traveler. The animal had undoubtedly picked up the stones with the ants from the top of the mound and the association is probably accidental. That they served the purpose of a "gastric mill " once inside the digestive canal can not be doubted, whether the animal willed or no.

    In this connection it may be of interest to the readers of these pages to call attention to some large Cretaceous sharks which have, within the past few months, been received at the University of Kansas Museum. In one specimen [KUVP 68979], consisting almost entirely of scattered vertebral cartilages, there are associated many hundreds of greatly abraded, very smooth and polished stones of white and black quartzite.

378                            SCIENCE             [N. S. Vol. XXXV. No. 897

     That they belong with the shark can not be doubted on account of the association. The pebbles resemble to a great extent those figured by Dr. Williston some years ago as occurring with a pleisosaur [sic]. Another, nearly complete skeleton of a large shark, Isurus mantelli Ag., [KUVP 247] has preserved the larger part of the cranial cartilages. The sharks will shortly be described in detail and further reference need not be made to them here.

                                                                 Roy L. Moodie


    January 26, 1912


Brown, B. 1904. Stomach stones and the food of plesiosaurs. Science (New Series) 20(501):184-185. (Gastroliths mixed with stomach contents in plesiosaurs)

Cicimurri, D. J. and M. J. Everhart. 2001. An elasmosaur with stomach contents and gastroliths from the Pierre Shale (Late Cretaceous) of Kansas. Kansas Academy  of Science, Transactions 104(3-4):129-143.

Eastman, C. R. 1904. A recent paleontological induction. Science (New Series) 20(510):465-466. (Eastman attacks Brown's ideas (above) on gastroliths)

Everhart, M. J. 2000. Gastroliths associated with plesiosaur remains in the Sharon Springs Member of the Pierre Shale (Late Cretaceous), Western Kansas. Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 103(1-2):58-69.

Moodie, R. L. 1912. The "stomach stones" of reptiles. Science 35(897)377-378.

Schmeisser, R.L. and Gillette, D.D. 2009. Unusual occurrence of gastroliths in a polycotylid plesiosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Tropic Shale, southern Utah. PALAIOS 2009 24: 453-459.

Shimada, K. 1997. Paleoecological relationships of the Late Cretaceous lamniform shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli (Agassiz). Journal of Paleontology 71(5):926-933.

Williston, S. W. 1893. An interesting food habit of the plesiosaurs. Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions. 13:121-122, 1 plate. (Gastroliths)

Williston, S. W. 1894. A food habit of the plesiosaurs. The American Naturalist 28(325):50. (Gastroliths)

Williston, S. W. 1904. The stomach stones of the plesiosaurs. Science (New Series) 22:565.