Romualdo Formation

The Romualdo Formation is a geologic Konservat-Lagerstätte in northeastern Brazil's Araripe Basin where the states of Pernambuco, Piauí and Ceará come together. The geological formation, previously designated as the Romualdo Member of the Santana Formation, named after the village of Santana do Cariri, lies at the base of the Araripe Plateau. It was discovered by Johann Baptist von Spix in 1819. The strata were deposited during the Aptian stage of the Early Cretaceous in a lacustrine rift basin with shallow marine incursions of the proto-Atlantic. At that time, the South Atlantic was opening up in a long narrow shallow sea.

Romualdo Formation
Stratigraphic range: Early Albian
~111–108 Ma
Anhanguera santanae.jpg
Fossils of Anhanguera (top) and Santanadactylus (bottom) from the Romualdo Formation
TypeGeological formation
Unit ofSantana Group
UnderliesExu & Arajara Formations
OverliesCrato & Ipubi Formations
Thickness2–10 m (6.6–32.8 ft)
OtherLimestone, shale
Coordinates7°12′S 39°18′W / 7.2°S 39.3°W / -7.2; -39.3Coordinates: 7°12′S 39°18′W / 7.2°S 39.3°W / -7.2; -39.3
Approximate paleocoordinates12°12′S 10°42′W / 12.2°S 10.7°W / -12.2; -10.7
RegionPernambuco, Piauí & Ceará
Country Brazil
ExtentAraripe Basin
Araripe Basin map - formations and resources.jpg
Extent of the Santana Group, to which the Romualdo Formation belongs, in blue

The Romualdo Formation earns the designation of Lagerstätte due to an exceedingly well preserved and diverse fossil faunal assemblage. Some 25 species of fossil fishes are often found with stomach contents preserved, enabling paleontologists to study predator–prey relationships in this ecosystem. There are also fine examples of pterosaurs, reptiles and invertebrates, and crocodylomorphs. Even dinosaurs are represented (Spinosauridae, Tyrannosauroidea, Compsognathidae). The unusual taphonomy of the site resulted in limestone accretions that formed nodules around dead organisms, preserving even soft parts of their anatomy. In preservation, the nodules are etched away with acid, and the fossils often prepared by the transfer technique.[1]

Local mining activities for cement and construction damage the sites. Trade in illegally collected fossils has sprung up from the decade of 1970, driven by the remarkable state of preservation and beauty of these fossils and amounting to a considerable local industry. An urgent preservation program is being called for by paleontologists.[2]

In addition, the weathering of Romualdo Formation rocks has contributed soil conditions unlike elsewhere in the region. The Araripe manakin (Antilophia bokermanni) is a very rare bird that was discovered only in the late 20th century; it is not known from anywhere outside the characteristic forest that grows on the Chapada do Araripe soils formed ultimately from Romualdo Formation rocks.

Geology and datingEdit

Outcrop and interpretation of the Romualdo Formation
Outcrop of the Romualdo and Ipubi Formations

The Crato Formation was previously considered the lowest member of the then Santana Formation, but has been elevated to a formal formation. The Crato Formation is the product of a single phase, where complicated sequence of sediment strata reflect changeable conditions in the opening sea. The age of the Romualdo Formation, formerly known as the Romualdo Member of the Santana Formation, has been controversial, though most workers have agreed that it lies on or near the Aptian-Albian boundary, about 112 million years ago. Nevertheless, a Cenomanian age cannot be ruled out.[3][4]

The extent of the Crato unit and its relationship to the Romualdo Formation had long been ill-defined. It was not until a 2007 volume on the unit by Martill, Bechly and Loveridge that the Crato Formation was given a formal type locality, and was formally made a distinct formation separate from the Romualdo Formation, which is about 10 Ma younger.[3]

Fossil contentEdit


Indeterminate remains of non-avian theropods, avialans, ornithischians, and possibly oviraptorosaurs have been found in Ceara state, Brazil.[5] The oviraptorosaurian remains have been re-identified as megaraptoran fossils.[6]


Genus Species Presence Notes Images
Angaturama[5] A. limai Ceará Spinosauridae. Partial skull (rostralmost portion).[7] Possible junior synonym of Irritator challengeri.
Aratasaurus[8] A. museunacionali Ceará A coelurosaur. Partial right hindlimb.
Irritator[5][9] I. challengeri Ceará Spinosauridae. Partial skull (posterior half); one of the most complete spinosaurid skulls known.
Mirischia[5] M. asymmetrica Pernambuco Compsognathidae. Pelvis and partial left hindlimb.
Santanaraptor[5] S. placidus Ceará A possible tyrannosauroid. Some caudal vertebrae, partial pelvis, most of both hindlimbs.[10]


Genus Species Presence Notes Images
Araripesuchus A. gomesii Romualdo Formation Type specimen 423-R is a single skull articulating with part of a lower jaw. A more complete specimen, AMNH 24450, is at the American Museum of Natural History.
Caririsuchus C. camposi Romualdo Formation A peirosaurid crocodyliform.


Genus Species Presence Images
  • A. blittersdorffi
  • A. santanae
  • A. araripensis
  • A. robustus
  • A. piscator
  • A. spielbergi
Araripedactylus A. dehmi
Araripesaurus A. castilhoi
Barbosania[11] B. gracilirostris
Brasileodactylus B. araripensis
Cearadactylus C. atrox
C. ligabuei
Kariridraco K. dianae
Maaradactylus M. kellneri
  • S. brasilensis
  • ?S. pricei
  • S. spixi
Tapejara T. wellnhoferi
Thalassodromeus T. sethi
Tropeognathus T. mesembrinus
  • T. deliradamus
  • T. leonardii
  • T. longicristatus
Unwindia U. trigonus


Genus Species Presence Notes Images
Santanachelys S. gaffneyi [12]
Cearachelys C. placidoi [13]
Araripemys A. barretoi [14]
Euraxemys E. essweini [15]
Brasilemys B. josai [16]
Color key
Taxon Reclassified taxon Taxon falsely reported as present Dubious taxon or junior synonym Ichnotaxon Ootaxon Morphotaxon
Uncertain or tentative taxa are in small text; crossed out taxa are discredited.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Maisey et al., 1991, pp.99–103
  2. ^ Gibney, Elizabeth (6 March 2014). "Brazil clamps down on illegal fossil trade". Nature. 507 (7490): 20. Bibcode:2014Natur.507...20G. doi:10.1038/507020a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 24598620.
  3. ^ a b Martill et al., 2007
  4. ^ Martill, 2007
  5. ^ a b c d e Weishampel, 2004, pp. 563–570
  6. ^ Aranciaga Rolando, Alexis M.; Brissón Egli, Federico; Sales, Marcos A.F.; Martinelli, Agustín G.; Canale, Juan I.; Ezcurra, Martín D. (2018). "A supposed Gondwanan oviraptorosaur from the Albian of Brazil represents the oldest South American megaraptoran". Cretaceous Research. 84: 107–119. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2017.10.019. ISSN 0195-6671.
  7. ^ "Table 4.1," in Weishampel, et al. (2004). Page 73.
  8. ^ Juliana Manso Sayão; Antônio Álamo Feitosa Saraiva; Arthur Souza Brum; Renan Alfredo Machado Bantim; Rafael Cesar Lima Pedroso de Andrade; Xin Cheng; Flaviana Jorge de Lima; Helder de Paula Silva; Alexander W. A. Kellner (2020). "The first theropod dinosaur (Coelurosauria, Theropoda) from the base of the Romualdo Formation (Albian), Araripe Basin, Northeast Brazil". Scientific Reports. 10 (1): Article number 10892. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-67822-9. PMC 7351750. PMID 32651406.
  9. ^ Martill, D. M.; Cruickshank, A. R. I.; Frey, E.; Small, P. G.; Clarke, M. (1 February 1996). "A new crested maniraptoran dinosaur from the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of Brazil". Journal of the Geological Society. 153 (1): 5–8. Bibcode:1996JGSoc.153....5M. doi:10.1144/gsjgs.153.1.0005. ISSN 0016-7649. S2CID 131339386.
  10. ^ "Table 5.1," in Weishampel, et al. (2004). Page 114.
  11. ^ Elgin & Frey, 2011
  12. ^ Santanachelys gaffneyi at
  13. ^ Juazeiro do Norte at
  14. ^ Araripemys barretoi type locality at
  15. ^ Crato at
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Chapada do Araripe at
  17. ^ Casa de Pedra at
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Fara et al., 2005, p.152
  19. ^ Buxéxé, Santana do Cariri at
  20. ^ Enneles audax
  21. ^ Iemanja palma
  22. ^ Placidichthys type locality at
  23. ^ Ze Gomes at


Further readingEdit