No other place in the world contains the same amount and diversity of Jurassic fossils.
After keeping it hidden for four years, Dr. Juan Garcia Massini and a team of paleontologists announced the discovery of a major Jurassic era fossil site in Patagonia in southern Argentina. According to their study reported in the current edition of the journal Ameghiniana, the previously unknown site was revealed when recent erosion exposed the fossils.
Massini is a geologist from the Regional Center for Scientific Research and Technology Transfer (CRILAR). He discovered the site along the Deseado Massif mountain range in Patagonia’s Santa Cruz Province.
The discovery is extraordinary because it is not bones but fossils of flora, micro- and macro-organisms. Moreover, the organisms were preserved in the mud and soft earth quickly, sometimes within a day, says Massini.
You can see how fungi, cyanobacteria and worms moved when they were alive.
The site covers 23,000 square miles (60,000 square km) and Massini was amazed at how well-preserved the area was, considering it dated back 140 million years.
You can see the landscape as it appeared in the Jurassic — how thermal waters, lakes and streams as well as plants and other parts of the ecosystem were distributed.
The plants are much older and different that the vegetation we see today and it is hoped the site will shed some light on how out current flora evolved. Palaeobotanist Ignacio Escapa also found fly fossils and hopes to discover mosquito fossils as well.
This is the first “whole ecosystem" type of site for the Jurassic Era – a similar site in Rhynie, Scotland (the Rhynie chert rocks) dates back to between 380 and 350 million years old and is not on the surface like the Patagonian site. Because it is so rich in fossils, the research is divided in parts, with Dr. Massini leading the study of microorganisms, palaeobotanist Ignacio Escapa doing plant research and Professor Diego Guido handling geological analysis.
Worms, plants and bacteria from the Jurassic Period wouldn’t make much of a movie but this is still a phenomenal discovery.