Fossils of dinosaurs and other animals that lived at least 80 million years ago were found during the excavation of a toll road on the SP 294 motorway between Irapuru and Pacaembu (SP), 630 kilometers from São Paulo, in the Presidente Prudente region.
The artifacts were located 20 meters above the ground and were found during the excavation of a gallery built to drain rainwater.
Bone fragments of two different types of dinosaurs have been found at the site: sauropods (“necks”) and theropods (bipeds with feet with three toes) – it is still not possible to determine the exact type of these animals.
In addition, the excavation found chelon shells (like turtles and turtles), fish scales, and crocodile teeth (ancestors of current alligators), according to paleontologist Fabiano Vidoi Iori, who worked on the site for 15 days.
As a researcher at the Pedro Candolo Paleontological Museum in Uchoa, he was called in March by Eixo SP, the concessionaire of the motorway that built the toll, informed of the discovery and work soon paralyzed.
“They contacted the museum and sent in a photo that they suspected they had found fossils. I went there and soon found a titanosaur vertebra, the neck that was most common here in South America, ”says Iori.
The researchers identified the material on the walls of the excavation and asked the ANM (National Mining Agency) for permission to break the rocks and remove the artifacts. “It was a job with a hammer, a chisel, but also a backhoe loader. Since this was a large project, they are using machines to do excavations that we as researchers cannot access, which made it easier, ”he says.
The meeting of relatives of turtles and crocodiles shows that in the past the region was Fluvio-Lacustrine, according to the words of the paleontologist, that is, it was a river or a lake.
The paleontologist explains that the region is located in the Bauru sedimentary basin. “It is a region that in the past received sediments from higher areas that occurred in the Cretaceous Period [de 145 a 65 milhões de anos atrás], that was the last time the dinosaurs lived, ”says Iori.
“The sediments of sand and mud were transported to these lower regions and in the middle also came biogenic remains, shells, teeth and bones. Over millions of years this mud becomes sedimentary rock and is like a time capsule. It locks up all the biogenic remains there, the mud turns into sedimentary rock and the bones give rise to the fossils, ”he adds.
The researcher says that despite identifying the groups these animals belong to, there is still a need to find out what species they are, a job that can be done year-round.
Another important discovery was coprolites, petrified feces that can provide information about the eating habits of these animals.
From there it is necessary to better understand the relevance of the finding of the fossils, which researchers estimate are between 90 and 80 million years old.
The fossils are located in the Uchoa Museum of Paleontology and will be exposed when the room reopens, which is closed today due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.