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DUNE'S LIFE: THE TRACK RECORD OF A MESOZOIC WARM DESERT - Ichnological analysis of the Botucatu Formation in São Paulo and comparison with other Mesozoic ichnofaunas from similar environmental settings, with emphasis on the record of derived synapsids

Grant number: 13/01930-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2013
Effective date (End): August 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Paleozoology
Principal Investigator:Max Cardoso Langer
Grantee:Simone D'Orazi Porchetti
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


Traces of an elusive life hide behind the fossils dunes of an ancient desert, known in lithostratigraphic terms as the Botucatu Formation. This desert was a very extensive (over a million of square kilometres) sea of sand that came to an end at the beginning of the Cretaceous Period. The thick coverage of the Serra Geral basalts sealed its original framework of dunes. Albeit devoid of body-fossils and pollens, the Botucatu Formation is otherwise rich in fossil tracks and traces of vertebrate and invertebrate origins. Notwithstanding this abundant record, the datation of the Botucatu Formation is still debated, potentially spanning from the Late Triassic to the Early Cretaceous, depending on the authors and on the approach. The climatic setting at the time of the Botucatu desert in another issue that is prone to refinement. Indeed, despite a dominant warm and dry climate, seasonality or repeated periods of humidity might have occurred. Not least, the ichnotaxonomy of the Botucatu tracks is as yet open to improvements. Aim of this project is therefore to reconsider the entire (vertebrate and invertebrate) ichnological record in ichnotaxonomic, paleozoological and paleoecological terms. Ichnofaunal composition, distribution and abundance will be evaluated with statistical tools and compared to similar assemblage globally. Cutting-edge methodologies (GPS, GIS, photogrammetry) will be adopted in order to generate a virtual database of this record, open, easy-to-share and improvable. Trackmaker attribution will rely on a synapomorphy-based approach aside to the Extant Phylogenetic Bracket (EPB) paradigm. A global revision of the track record of derived synapsid is envisaged, adopting the Botucatu record as point of reference. We foresee a strong contribution to the comprehension of fossil life in the Botucatu desert, with emphasis on a better constrained age definition of this Formation, and potentially with a more refined definition of the paleoclimatic setting. Ultimately, this project aims to reenforce the importance of the Botucatu biota as paradigmatic for the comprehension of fossil desert paleoecology.

Scientific publications (7)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI; BERTINI, REINALDO J.; LANGER, MAX C. Proposal for Ichnotaxonomic Allocation of Therapsid Footprints from the Botucatu Formation (Brazil). ICHNOS-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR PLANT AND ANIMAL TRACES, v. 25, n. 2-3, SI, p. 192-207, 2018. Web of Science Citations: 3.
PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI; BERTINI, REINALDO J.; LANGER, MAX C. Walking, running, hopping Analysis of gait variability and locomotor skills in Brasilichnium elusivum Leonardi, with inferences on trackmaker identification. PALAEOGEOGRAPHY PALAEOCLIMATOLOGY PALAEOECOLOGY, v. 465, n. A, p. 14-29, JAN 1 2017. Web of Science Citations: 2.
WAGENSOMMER, ALEXANDER; LATIANO, MARIANNA; MOCKE, HELKE B.; PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI. Dinosaur diversity in an Early Jurassic African desert: the significance of the Etjo Sandstone ichnofauna at the Otjihaenamaparero locality (Namibia). NEUES JAHRBUCH FUR GEOLOGIE UND PALAONTOLOGIE-ABHANDLUNGEN, v. 281, n. 2, p. 155-182, AUG 2016. Web of Science Citations: 1.
WAGENSOMMER, ALEXANDER; LATIANO, MARIANNA; MOCKE, HELKE B.; PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI; WANKE, ANSGAR. A Dinosaur Ichnocoenosis from the Waterberg Plateau (Etjo Formation, Lower Jurassic), Namibia. ICHNOS-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR PLANT AND ANIMAL TRACES, v. 23, n. 3-4, SI, p. 312-321, 2016. Web of Science Citations: 3.
PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI; WAGENSOMMER, ALEXANDER. A vertebrate trackway from the Twyfelfontein Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Damaraland, Namibia. PALAEONTOLOGISCHE ZEITSCHRIFT, v. 89, n. 4, p. 807-814, DEC 2015. Web of Science Citations: 6.
ABBASSI, NASROLLAH; PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI; WAGENSOMMER, ALEXANDER; DEHNAVI, MAHDI GHORBANI. Dinosaur and crocodylomorph footprints from the Hojedk Formation (Bajocian, Middle Jurassic) of north Kerman, Central Iran. ITALIAN JOURNAL OF GEOSCIENCES, v. 134, n. 1, p. 86-94, FEB 2015. Web of Science Citations: 3.
PORCHETTI, SIMONE D'ORAZI; MOCKE, HELKE B.; LATIANO, MARIANNA; WAGENSOMMER, ALEXANDER. First record of Otozoum from Namibia. LETHAIA, v. 48, n. 1, p. 72-82, JAN 2015. Web of Science Citations: 5.

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