Brachiosaurus puke crater

Apparently a brachiosaurus could projectile vomit with such force that it killed a small dinosaur who had the misfortune of being in the way. The poor little guy’s fossilized remains were found in a brachiosaurus puke crater (well, brachiosaurus vomit crater in polite company), I assume smooshed under the fossilized remains of brachiosaurus vomit. Not only was a brachiosaurus tall enough and ate enough so that a stomachfull of foliage would be vomited with such force that it could kill even you, had you been in the right spot, but you would be squished to death in one of the most disgusting ways imaginable. It’s something never explored in Jurrasic Park.

The notion that a critter could vomit so hard that it could leave a hole in the ground like a mortar shell is something I had never really thought about before. But as brachiosauruses were nearly 100 feet long from schnoz to the tip of the tail (and reaching about two thirds of that tall) you have to assume that the length of their alimentary canal from stomach to mouth was at least half the body length, so it would take an extraordinary amount of force to puke a stomachful of giant fern tree leaves (or whatever they ate.) Remember when you were so drunk you projectile vomited a pizza and three pitchers of beer? No, of course you don’t, you were drunk. But remember when your roommate did? Let’s just say it was your roommate then. Well, that pizza and beer came up a mere two or three feet from the stomach, certainly not enough to kill the person he (or you) vomited on. Now multiply the power of that projectile vomiting a zillion times and you have a brachiosaurus projectile vomiting. We’re talking vomiting with such force that a stomachfull of swallowed vegetation became a genuine projectile, one that leaves an actual shell hole. Basically, it would be a mild mannered vegan sauropod nearly as big as anything that ever walked the earth acting like a cannon. I’d never thought of that before. They’re always so nice in the cartoons and movies. Nor had I ever thought of the fact that such a vomit hole could survive in a sedimentary layer laid down 150 million years ago and be so recognizable to paleontologists in our time that they’ve dubbed them brachiosaurus puke craters.

Brachiosaurus puke craters. No wonder I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was a kid.

(And here’s the marvelous tweet that set me off on this tangent. Thanks to Rob Beschizza for the thinking and the math and the drawing.)


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