Lost fossil 'treasure trove' rediscovered after 70 years

Lost fossil ‘treasure trove’ rediscovered after 70 years

Researchers uncovering fossils at the fossil site in 1951 before its location was initially lost. (Image credit: Ferraz et al)

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Scientists have finally rediscovered a lost fossil site in Brazil, after the researchers who originally discovered it 70 years ago were unable to retrace their steps to the remote location. The unique geologic conditions at the long-lost site preserve paleontological treasures that could help shed light on one of the biggest extinction events in Earth‘s history.

The rediscovered site, which is known as Cerro Chato, is located near Brazil’s border with Uruguay in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. Around 260 million years ago, towards the end of the Permian period (299 million to 251 million years ago) conditions at the site were ideal for trapping and preserving dead organisms. As a result, multiple rocky layers at Cerro Chato are chock-full of delicate fossils — especially plants, which typically do not fossilize as well as animals do because they lack hard parts.   

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