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Identity of fossils


Fossilized footprints of old reptiles and drawings that facilitate identificationRAFAEL COSTA DA SILVA/CPRM

A study carried out in Paraná has almost doubled the number of known vertebrate species from the Neopermian period (from 250 to 270 million years ago) in Brazil. The researchers, led by paleontologist Rafael Costa da Silva from the Brazilian Geological Service (CPRM) in Rio de Janeiro, described five new species of Brazilian paleofauna. Silva explains, however, that they neither found nor studied fossil skeletons. What they did was carry out a descriptive study of fossilized footprints. “Throughout the study, we noticed that the species that produced the footprints could not have been the same as the ones that are known from the skeletons from this period,” he explains. The descriptions are called ichnospecies because naming based on footprints is not recognized for a complete scientific description of the species. “We named the footprints, using morphological characteristics and comparing them with other descriptions.” The study was published in the Journal of South American Earth Sciences (October 2012).