Santana Formation - Ceara, Brazil

LOWER CRETACEOUS PERIOD:  110 million years ago

Of all the richest fossil-bearing deposits ever known, Brazil's Santana Formation is ranked among the world's greatest.  Santana fossils are known for not only their extreme diversity but more importantly, for the nature of their breath-taking preservation - considered by scientists to include the finest examples of fossils in existence.  The formation provides an amazing window into the paleobiota of a prehistoric world from the Lower Cretaceous, 110 million years ago.  The Santana fossils of Brazil were first recorded in the year 1828 by two natural historians, Dr. J. B. von Spix and Dr. C. F. P. von Martius, commissioned by the king of Bavaria.  To this day, they are still being studied with many new discoveries coming to light. 
Our recent purchase of a 70+ year old private European collection of vertebrate Santana fossils has provided us with numerous spectacular quality specimens that go well beyond the quality and completeness of anything we have seen in either private hands or in museum collections.  While these specimens were originally collected in the 1930's before the ban enacted in 1942, they had remained in their raw state "as collected" up until only recently, whereby they were prepared utilizing the most modern laboratory techniques and equipment hence their remarkable state of display.  In comparison, the definitive illustrated work on these fossils, written by curator John G. Maisey titled "Santana Fossils", is illustrated with numerous prized specimens owned by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York.  The specimens we acquired and offer here, far exceed the quality of the finest specimens shown from the American Museum in this publication.  The method of preparation for the concretionary specimens we obtained utilized procedures that produce whole, fully exposed fossils without splitting the concretions open and destroying the specimen as most others have done.  The collection we acquired encompasses a variety of extremely rare vertebrates including fish and reptiles such as pterosaurs, in stunning degrees of preservation that rivals or even surpasses  the finest acid-prepared examples housed in the American Museum of Natural History. 
With these specimens we are offering, there is no comparison to the "butchered" concretionary Brazilian fossils that are crudely split with chisels to reveal the fossil inside.  Our collection has not been subjected to such treatment and are whole, fully three dimensionally examples prepared with the most advanced paleontological lab techniques and equipment.
This is an EXTREMELY RARE example of a common extinct fish species called Rhacolepis.  It is NEARLY DOUBLE THE AVERAGE LENGTH of what is typically encountered in this species.  It is the largest example we have ever seen in both, specimens on the market and specimens that have been scientifically published or in museum collections.  Furthermore, the three dimensional quality is unlike anything you will ever see in this species, as well.  While Rhacolepis is an abundant type found in the concretionary deposits of the Santana Formation, ironically, never can you find quality examples on the market.  This type is also often subjected to heavy fabrication, faking and composite assembly of unrelated fish fossils to make a seemingly single complete specimen.  Every example we have seen outside of museum collections look embarrassingly horrible, barely recognizable as a fish and in most cases, more akin to a torpedo-shaped coprolite.  Furthermore, most Rhacolepis fossils are found with little to no matrix surrounding the fish body as well as lacking the preservation of the tail.  If you want THE FINEST and RECORD-SIZE LARGEST example of this common species, it becomes paradoxically rare to locate!  With this specimen, comes a fantastic and uncommon opportunity to acquire this species fish in a better quality than what the largest museums display.  While the price is substantially higher than all other specimens we have seen, it certainly surpasses the completeness and state of preservation of EVERY specimen we have seen including those shown in Maisey's publication displaying specimens from the American Museum of Natural History!  This Rhacolepis is the specimen all others should be judged by and a more complete and well-preserved textbook example could not be had.  The nodule this fish was found in is abnormally large and thick thereby making for a best display example with a perimeter of original matrix.  Nodule is unbroken but head has single thin fracture repair.  Head protrudes off the matrix to an extreme and creates an illusion the fish is lifting its head up off the concretion!  Superb natural color and scale detail as seen above with stunning preservation in the head which is never seen to this degree.  100% COMPLETE AND ORIGINAL with NO RESTORATION.  Dinosaurs ruled the earth and pterosaurs ruled the skies when this fish swam amidst the depths of a Cretaceous sea. 


In John Maisey's book titled "Santana Fossils", he cites the prevalence of fake, composite and enhanced fossils from this formation that are on the market.  The local artisans at the sites produce a wide variety of artificially created fossils - some horribly obvious yet some, extremely convincing out of carefully matched composite pieces.  These composite examples are very convincing because they are made up of all real pieces but not necessarily of the same species!  Often, missing parts are carved or sculpted from a mixture of plaster, rock dust and epoxy and then painted to disguise the work.  A number of these handcrafted "fossils" have in the past, and continue to, make it into the mainstream fossil market.  Describing a variety of techniques and types of fakes, Maisey even shows photographs of some fakes for reference to illustrate the breadth, creativity and skill of some of these workers.  He also addresses the prevalence of fake insect and other rare fossils within the text.  With all Brazilian fossils, collectors should approach prospective purchases with caution for not only the legality of the specimen but also, for accurate disclosure by a qualified and experienced preparator of any artificial enhancement to the specimen.  PALEO DIRECT guarantees every Santana Formation specimen we offer to be AUTHENTIC and "as described" with a written unlimited lifetime guarantee / certificate of its authenticity and data sheet.

Rarely do fossils possess the preservation of those found in Brazil's Santana Formation located on the Araripe Plateau.  The magnificent fossils include a vast selection of fish, insects and plants along with rare occurrences of the remains of pterosaurs, dinosaurs, frogs, turtles, crocodiles and miscellaneous marine invertebrates.  Santana fossils are predominantly made up of two kinds of fossils which are classified as two different strata - the earlier Crato members which are found in shales and thin limestone layers and the later Romualdo members which are found in round limestone concretions.  The lower or older Crato member strata occur as fossils in laminated limestones that were deposited on an undisturbed lakebed.  These types include small fishes and a diverse fauna of insects and other animals suggesting a dry open terrestrial environment.  A frog has been found in the Crato deposits along with the impression of a feather and pterosaur remains.  Romualdo member fossils include a wide variety of fish, plants and rare occurrences of reptiles such as crocodiles, turtles, dinosaurs and pterosaurs.  Most impressive are the fact that these concretionary fossils are preserved in a full three dimensional perspective and when prepared with the utmost care and skill, reveal features and anatomy that are akin to the animal being alive. 
The exact dating of these two members remains enigmatic although the Crato members are known to pre-date the Romualdo members.  It is possible that both are within the same time zone of the Lower Cretaceous.  Despite the long period of time these fossils have been known, much work remains in the study and determination of dating and the full breadth of the flora and fauna from the Santana Formation of Brazil. 



Fish alone is 15" in length x 4.5" high

SOLD     FBR-004     INCLUDES STAND     Actual Item - One Only