Abstract

Because of its fossil abundance and exceptional preservation, the Romualdo Formation of the Santana Group has become a famous lithostratigraphic unit of the Araripe Basin. In the past decades, much research has been conducted on the vertebrates of this unit, especially fish and pterosaurs, based mainly on museum collections. Despite the importance of these fossil finds, no stratigraphic information is known about them, because until recently, locals have collected most of the fossils. Here we present the results of the third controlled excavation of these layers. The data from all fossils collected confirm a faunal succession of fish biota. In the upper and most fossiliferous layer, the faunal composition shows a pattern of fish distribution never observed before, indicating that previous categories (abundance versus diversity) do not include the total diversity of fish populations. Pterosaur remains were recorded for the first time in the field, contradicting the general idea that these volant reptiles are common in the Romualdo strata. The specimen was attributed to the clade Anhangueridae because the proportional length of the first wing phalanx is less than twice the length of the wing metacarpal. The controlled excavation showed that the pterosaur assemblages from this formation probably occur in clusters. The known abundance of pterosaurs in the Romualdo Formation has been biased by just a few sites of fossil extraction, and these reptiles do not appear to have been as widespread or abundant as previously thought.

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