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Pietraroja Geopaleontological Park

The lagoon dwellers

The few remains of fossil flora and above all the plenty of fauna in, allow us to examine better the natural surroundings. According to Prof. D’Erasmo the discovery of plant remains meant that there were emerged land nearby. Several examples of plants belonging to order of ‘Gimnosperme’ generi Cicadine e Gingkoine, were found in the lagoon. Besides if there are several kinds of pollens it means that the emerged lands were nearby.

There are plenty of microfossils such as ‘radiolari’, probably owing to the big amount of silica in the surroundings which gave rise to flint stripes and nodules. You can find seldom ‘foraminiferi’ referred to deep-sea form which got the lagoon after tides or storms.

The same conditions might have given rise to ‘poriferi spicule’ (silicosponge) since sponges do not like pond waters. In the block of strata fish-stones there are not water seaweeds but there are plenty of them on the top of that block and at its bottom.

As for the macrofossils in the calcareous ‘ittioliti’ stones a specimen of echinoderm (that was an’asterozoo’) was found, it is an exceptional example of fossilisation so that Pietraroja discovery is surely due to its quick covering (in the same way) likewise the specimen of European lobsters which were found in very bad conditions.

CiroAs far as the vertebrates it is established the peculiarity of Pietraroja ’area’, particularly concerning fishes, amphibians, and reptiles.

In calcareous stones there are more than 20 species of lagoon, fresh, brackish and open waters, fishes belonging to the superorders of Selaci, Holostei, Holecostomi and Teleostei. It is worthwhile to mention the wonderful specimen of Dyplomistus, a typical fresh water animal which got the lagoon when that was linked with the open sea; the dangerous Coelodus: by its cutter teeth was able to chew up mollusc shells.

The Belenostomus with sharp teeth, predator of small plankton-eaters species such as Leptolepsis; Lepidotes, Hemielopis and Notagogus, all of them very kept showing clearly scales and fishbones. A wonderful specimen of the present salamander ancestor has been found and, among reptiles, two specimens of crocodiles and the famous dinosaur puppy commonly named ‘Ciro’.

Thanks to the discovery of "Scypionix Samniticus" and to its perfect condition in fossilisation scholars examined more closely all the park area.

ciroPietraroja dinosaur was similar to Velociraptors (which were remade in "Jurassic Park" film). As a grown up it might 3-4 metres high. It might have been a rather evolved meat-eater if we consider the shape and size of its skull, its sharp teeth and limbs. It had a complex digestive tract and you can notice even its liver print, its paws claw, which might be used to fight, was very big.

Dal Sasso and Signore palaeontologists, who first of all studied the fossil, established its age in 113 million years.

The discovery of the only specimen of European dinosaur (only prints were found in Trentino an in Carso) makes us suppose that, in mesozoic era, Europe might still have been in contact with Africa, because there were dinosaurs in Africa and consequently also in the lagoons facing Africa these reptiles might have settled; perhaps only by chance our dinosaur was entrapped in the lagoon muds and afterwards covered and fossilised.

Since in Pietraroja lagoon there are very different species of animal fossils we suppose events which led to a mass death (tanatocenosi) which might have happened when the environmental conditions became very difficult. Since these fossils lie in a lot of added layers (the whole out crop is thick only 25-30 cm) we suppose that a lot of animals died periodically (at intervals).

There might have been a lot of attendant circumstances which gave rise to this (death of a whole species) ‘tanatocenosi’: (volcanic events, earthquakes, seaquakes, sudden changes in saltness and/or in temperature, large increase of plankton, lack of oxygen with poisonous gases, silting up, etc…).

But as for Pietraroja, according to the most important scholars, lagoon tanatocenosi might have been caused by the periodical lack of oxygen which led to an increase of poisonous gases, so that corpses could not be destroyed by decomposing bacteria and predators.

Consequently only under those conditions fossilisation and ‘diagenizzazione’ processes allow the whole animal to be kept.

Pesco Rosito


Finally is it to ask questions?

What is left about the idea of a park which was meant for studying and for a cultural and turistic development? Perhaps a territorial obligation" or an enclosure?
The right to study, to safeguard and keep this estate is not refused to anyone but we wonder for which science’s sake somebody wants only to take away without returning anything?
Pietraroja with its fossils should surely deserve much more concern.


Introduction Geologycal short account The lagoon dwellers Travel information Ciro & Co. Link

Con il contributo dell'Ordine dei Geologi della Campania

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