Fossilized bacteria in a Cretaceous pterosaur headcrest

Authors

  • FELIPE L. PINHEIRO,

  • BRUNO L.D HORN,

  • CESAR L. SCHULTZ,

  • JOSÉ A. F. G. DE ANDRADE,

  • PAULA A. SUCERQUIA


Felipe L. Pinheiro [fl_pinheiro@yahoo.com.br], Bruno L. D. Horn [bruno.horn@ufrgs.br] and Cesar L. Schultz [cesar.schultz@ufrgs.br], Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Setor de Paleovertebrados, Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9500 – Bloco J, Prédio 43127, Campos do Vale, Agronomia – Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, CEP: 91509-900, Brasil; José A. F. G. de Andrade [jartur@yahoo.com.br], Centro de Pesquisas Paleontológicas da Chapada do Araripe, Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral, Praça da Sé, 105 – Crato, Ceará, CEP: 633100-440, Brasil; Paula A. Sucerquia [psucerquia@gmail.com], Universidade de São Paulo, Pós-Graduação em Geoquímica e Geotectônica, Rua do Lago 562, São Paulo, São Paulo, CEP: 05508-080, Brasil; manuscript received on 22/06/2011; manuscript accepted on 9/01/2012.

Abstract

Pinheiro F.L., Horn B.L.D., Schultz C.L., de Andrade J.A.F.G. and Sucerquia P.A., 2012: Fossilized bacteria in a Cretaceous pterosaur headcrest. Lethaia, Vol. 45, pp. 495–499.

We report herein the first evidence of bacterial autolithification in the Crato Formation of Araripe Basin, Brazil. The fossilized bacteria are associated with a tapejarid pterosaur skull, replacing the soft-tissue extension of the headcrest. EDS analyses indicate that the bacteria were replaced by phosphate minerals, probably apatite. The bacterial biofilm was likely part of the prokaryotic mat that decomposed the pterosaur carcass at the bottom of the Araripe lagoon. This work suggests that bacterial autolithification could have played a key-role on soft-tissue preservation of Crato Formation Lagerstätte. □Bacterial autolithification, Crato Formation, phosphatization, pterosaur, soft-tissue preservation.

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