Santana and Crato Formations
Fossil Sites
Fossils from
Santana and Crato Formation in Brazil

Also see:
Fossil Sites


The Santana Formation
The Santana Formation is a fossil Lagerstätte in northeastern Brazil's Araripe Basin where the states of Pernambuco, Piauí and Ceará come together. The strata were deposited in the Lower Cretaceous. The Santana Formation is especially noted for some 25 species of exceptionally well-preserved fossil fishes, but the assemblage also includes pterosaurs, other reptiles and amphibians, diverse invertebrates (especially insects), and plants. Dinosaurs have also been discovered, including new raptor was in 1996. The unusual exceptional preservation is attributable to limestone accretions that formed nodules around dead organisms, allowing is soft body part preservation.

The Crato Formation
While the entire formation has until the last decade or so been termed the Santana Formation, David Martill has separated out the slightly older insect-bearing strata as the Nova Olinda Member of the Crato Formation. Quarrying operations for the purposes of obtaining paving stones exposes the remarkable insect fauna in much the same way that quarrying for lithographic limestone in Solnhofen has yielded a diversity of wonderfully-preserved Jurassic fossils in Germany. In addition to the many orders of insects, spiders, scorpions, decapod crustaceans, and many plants have been found. Interestingly, to date no pterosaurs or terrestrial vertebrates have been found, in stark contrast to the overlying Santana Formation deposits.

Crato Formation Insect Fossils
Cordulagomphus tuberculatus Dragonfly
Order Orthoptera (grasshopper)
Order Odonata
Cockroach fossil
Order Coleoptera
(aquatic beetle)
Order Coleoptera
Family Dystiscidae
Order Thysanura
Bristletail or Solverfish
Order Diptera
Robber Fly
Order Hemiptera
(giant water bug)