Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bacteria and head crests

A new paper is out in Lethaia that mostly concerns taphonomy, but technically involves pterosaurs, as well.  Sadly, it does require a subscription to read, but here is the abstract (thanks to Ben Creisler for bringing this to my attention):

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 (advance online publication).
DOI: 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2012.00309.x.

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.