Research Items (22)
The locality of Pietraroia (Lower Albian, southern Apennines, Italy) has provided two fully articulated crocodylo-morphs, exposed in ventral and in dorsal aspect, which are described here as representing a new species of a new genus, Pietraroiasuchus ormezzanoi gen. nov, sp. nov. The new taxon is found to be the sister taxon of Pachycheilosuchus trinquei from the Albian of the Glen Rose Formation, Texas. Pietraroiasuchus ormezzanoi resolves the phylogenetic position of the controversial P. trinquei, and is crucial in enabling an extensive understanding of the family Hylaeochampsidae. Phylogenetic analysis places Hylaeochampsa vectiana as a sister group of Iharkutosuchus makadii plus Pachycheilosuchus and Pietraroiasuchus. The phylogenetic result reveals the presence of an evolutionary mosaicism within non-crocodylian eusuchians. Mosaic features in Pietraroiasuchus are denoted by the combination of primitive character states, such as the position of the choana with its anterior margin formed by an inverted V-shaped palatine processeses, and the presumed presence of a tiny antorbital fossa, in conjunction with derived states involving the slight vertebral procoelia, the presence of tetraserial segmented dermal armour with an accessory lateral row, and isolated nuchal osteoderms. The disjoint occurrence between Pachycheilosuchus and Pietraroiasuchus species suggests that Pietraroia was a refuge island inhabited by endemic forms.
- Jan 2007
- Predation in Organisms
This chapter presents an overview of evidence of predator-prey relationships in pterosaurs, with a focus on the Cretaceous (Santana Formation) pterosaurs from Chapado do Araripe, northeastern Brazil. The examples from the fossil record of pterosaurs as prey is scanty; the situation of pterosaurs as predators is not much better. However, especially for pterosaurs as predator, secondary evidence provides much insight in the life of these extinct predators. Here, we present a simple geometric model that proves the suggested way of predations of the toothed and crested taxa of the Anhangueridae.
- Nov 2006
The Lower Cretaceous Pietraroia Plattenkalk is a fossiliferous, fine-grained cherty limestone from the Matese Mountains – Southern Apennines, Italy. The deposits are well known for the exceptional state of vertebrate fossil preservation. First considered as shallow lagoonal deposits or as intra-platform basin-fill, the Pietraroia Plattenkalk sequences are here interpreted as abandon deposits of a submarine channel (Pietraroia Channel) documenting a major transgressive event. Transgression was associated with the development of suboxic to anoxic conditions at the seafloor which favoured the preservation of fossils, as well as the deposition of coprolith-rich and bituminous layers. A peculiar paleogeographic and paleotopographic setting, which was strongly controlled by local tectonic, experienced the contiguity of wide emerged areas with a relatively deep-water channelised area where fossiliferous Plattenkalk sequences were deposited.
- Jan 2006
Among the ichthyofauna of Pietraroja, Ichthyodectiformes have been reported only from a post-cranial partial skeleton attributed to the species Chirocentrites of. coroninii, at the beginning of the 20th century. The recent discovery of a complete and articulated skull and pectoral girdle, which we attribute to Ichthyodectidae, confirms the fossil record of this family in the Lower Cretaceous of Southern Italy. Preliminary research on the cranial material suggest this specimen can be placed within the genus Cladocyclus. The preservation of the specimen is exceptional, as it is usual with fossils coming from the Pietraroja area. It preserves not only a fully articulated skull and pectoral girdle, but also soft tissue preservation of muscles around the ribs. This specimen is possibly the most complete ichthyodectid known from Southern Italy. Preliminary geochemical studies suggest that the specimen has been phosphatized, which may be a common process of fossilization in the Pietraroja area.
Most of the toothed pterosaurs recovered from the Araripe Basin in Brazil (Santana Formation) have premaxillary sagittal and dentary sagittal crests. Some clear differences (and various less clear features) between the crested taxa have been used to classify the fossils, resulting in much scientific debate. On the other hand, a few potentially important features have been largely neglected so far. The present work presents an update of one of these crested taxa, Coloborhynchus, discussing the dentition and other previously unnoticed features in order to evaluate the systematic position of this taxon.
Recent excavations in the Plattenkalk of the Civita di Pietraroja (Lower Albian, Southern Italy) have yielded a new representative of the Ichthyodectiformes (Actinopterygii: Teleostei). Although the specimen is still under study, a preliminary report appears to be warranted. Attribution to Ichthyodectiformes is based on the following characters: pronounced mandibular prognathism, triangular supraoccipital crest, hammer–shaped anterior part of the autopalatine articulated with ethmoid and maxilla. This specimen represents the second discovery of ichthyodectid in Pietraroja, and the first showing the anterior part of the body, including an almost complete and articulated skull. Due to its exceptional preservation, this specimen may represent one of the most complete Italian ichthyodectid, and one of the most complete specimens from European Albian as well.
Phosphorus is an important element for many essential processes in the body of all living organisms, as it is involved in the metabolism of fat, carbohydrate and protein, and in energy metabolism. For these reasons, phosphorus is very widely distributed in both plants and animals, and thus in their foods. When a fish ingests its prey, most of the phosphorus ingested finally ends up in excrement, since the amount required by the fish is negligible as compared to the ingested amount. Here we show that, by combining a method to quantify the phosphorus in fish coprolites, using a set of equations widely used in field marine ecology and some very basic assumptions, it is possible to assess the kind of prey ingested and its maximal dimensions. Though a rough one, it is also possible to obtain an estimate for the composition of the food web at the level of fishes in the ancient seas of Pietraroja.
ABSTRACT - The terrestrial Paleozoic and Mesozoic vertebrates. In the last 15-20 years the fossil record of Italian Permo-Mesozoic terrestrial vertebrates has been increased since the dìscovery of the dinosaurs tracks by Lerici (Lig¬uria, 1988) and by the Lavini di Marco (Trento). However, important footprints sites were already well-known especially in the Permian, both Early and Late. Early Per- mian tracks in the Orobic Alps (Lombardy) were described for the first time at the end of the XIX century. Owing to outcrops, only short sequences of footprints are usually known: furthermore, the assemblages are quite poor in comparison with coeval sites of centrai Europe and North America, probably because of a rather unstable environment thal prevented the biocoenosis from reaching its climax. A single amphibian is known among several reptiles, usually of small size. Also in the Late Permian footprints have been known for more than one century in the Val Gardena sandstones area (Dolomites). This ichnofauna shows a very important diversity as there are large terapsids and pareiasaurs together with smaller primitive diapsids: this may be considered the most advanced tetrapod fauna in the Permian. In some cases, the footprints are exceptionally preserved, showing skin and claw details. Regarding the Middle Triassic, there are a lot of very promising sites in Trentino-Alto Adige. Even though most of them are still unstudied, the preliminary reports point to a very interesting fauna made of both archosauria and lepidosauria, with organisms up to 4-5 m in length. Preservation is very good, so that it is often possible to detect skin details as well as interesting ethological behaviours in some gregarious taxa. Late Triassic tetrapod tracks are known in several sites in the Alps: however the most important assemblages come from Lig¬uria and Tuscany. The Carnian site of Lerici shows very interesting footprints of early dinosaurs, and the oldest ones are ascrìbed to a prosauropod. A more “usual” ichno-assemblage is in the Monti Pisani in Tuscany, where in the last century a new assemblage was discovered in the red beds of Late Triassic. A single footprint is ascrìbed to a dinosaur in this area as well, even though its bad preservation prevents any better determination. Very recent discoveries - the Lavini di Marco (TN) tracks site and the bony remaìns of a dinosaur near Saltrio (VA) — are ascrìbed to the Jurassic age. Few naturai phenomena in the Alps have been the subject of such controversial geologic, historic, philological and literary interpretations as the Lavini di Marco tracks site. Its descrìption is mostly confmed to the interpretation of the causes of the event or to the debate on its probable mention in Dante’s Divina Comedia. The name Lavini (or Slavini) comes from the late Latin word labi¬na which means “landslide”. The trampled sediments have been ascrìbed to the middle-upper part (perìtidal unit) of the Lower Member of the Calcari Grigi Formation of early Liassic age. There are seven levels with footprints in a six metres thick section; each single level can be traced over an area of hundred metres. Footprìnts and trackways testify the presence of a lot of dinosaurs. The most plentiful are theropods, then there are early sauropods and several unidentified bipedal dinosaurs (possibly small-size omithischians). Some non-dinosaurian reptile tracks have been found as well. The bone remains from Saltrìo belong to a large theropod: however only a few fragmentary bones have been found. The shallow marine environment of deposition (high energy is proved as the matrix is a crinoidal biocalcarenite) and the quarry works did not allow the skele […] dinosaur record even more inieresting. Bone rernains are known from early Cretaceous site of Pietraroja ( BN), already famous since its vertebrates were described more than 150 years ago. Scipionyx samniticus is a small (young) theropod with an exceptional preservation so that several soft tissues have been preserved (gut, muscles, nails, ecc.). Before the discovery of a lot of nice specimens in the Lianing region in China, Ciro - as it is popularly known - was one of the best preserved dinosaurs even described. Large dinosaurs, more or less completely articulate, come from the Late Cretaceous site of Villaggio del Pescatore near Duino (TS). Here, in marine limestones, a few specimens have been found and partially excavated in the last years. Together with these hadrosaurs there are crocodiles, fishes and crustaceans as well as scattered bonesfrom other dinosaur groups. The last important Cretaceous side was discovered only five years ago in Puglia: that’s the well-known Altamura track site of the late Cretaceous age. Here, more than 30.000 footprints are present on a quarry floor of about 120.000 square metres! Most of footprints are organized in long trackways and this make this site even more interesting. Furthermore, we must consider that all these dinosaur remains found on the carbonate platform of the Apulia Platform make the currently accepted paleogeographic restorations very problematic.
Ultraviolet light analysis of a fossil of the theropod dinosaurScipionyx samniticus revealed that the liver subdivided the visceral cavity into distinct anterior pleuropericardial and posterior abdominal regions. In addition, Scipionyx apparently had diaphragmatic musculature and a dorsally attached posterior colon. These features provide evidence that diaphragm-assisted lung ventilation was present in theropods and that these dinosaurs may have used a pattern of exercise physiology unlike that in any group of living tetrapods.
The Lower Cretaceous Pietraroia Plattenkalk (Benevento Province, southern Italy) has been known since the eighteenth century for its beautifully preserved fossil fishes. During Albian time (about 113Myr ago), deposition of fine marly limestone in a shallow lagoonal environment, affected by cyclic periods of low oxygen levels, led to exceptional preservation of soft tissue in a juvenile theropod. The specimen, diagnosed here as Scipionyx samniticus gen. et sp. nov., is the first dinosaur ever to be found in Italy. The fossil has been mentioned previously in two brief notes, and generally examined in a doctoral thesis. Here we report the full preparation of the specimen which shows details of soft anatomy never seen previously in any dinosaur. The preservation is better than in other lagerstätten (conservative deposits) where theropod soft tissue has been reported, such as the Santana Formation of Brazil and the Yixian Formation of China. Despite this, there is no evidence of feathers or any other integumentary remnants in the Italian specimen. Scipionyx represents a new maniraptoriform theropod. Its discovery is remarkable considering also the scarcity of juvenile theropod dinosaurs in the fossil record.