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Article: Forged soft tissues revealed in the oldest fossil reptile from the early Permian of the Alps

Palaeontology - Vol. 67 - Cover Image all volumes
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 67
Part: 1
Publication Date: 2024
Article number: e12690
Author(s): Valentina Rossi, Massimo Bernardi, Mariagabriella Fornasiero, Fabrizio Nestola, Richard Unitt, Stefano Castelli, and Evelyn Kustatscher
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How to Cite

ROSSI, V., BERNARDI, M., FORNASIERO, M., NESTOLA, F., UNITT, R., CASTELLI, S., KUSTATSCHER, E. 2024. Forged soft tissues revealed in the oldest fossil reptile from the early Permian of the Alps. Palaeontology, 67, 1, e12690. DOI:

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Abstract Tridentinosaurus antiquus represents one of the oldest fossil reptiles and one of the very few skeletal specimens with evidence of soft tissue preservation from the Cisuralian (Early Permian) of the Italian Alps. The preservation and appearance of the fossil have puzzled palaeontologists for decades and its taphonomy and phylogenetic position have remained unresolved. We reanalysed T. antiquus using ultraviolet light (UV), 3D surface modelling, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), micro x-ray diffraction (μ-XRD), Raman and attenuated total reflectance Fourier transformed infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy to determine the origin of the body outline and test whether this represents the remains of organically preserved soft tissues which in turn could reveal important anatomical details about this enigmatic protorosaur. The results reveal, however, that the material forming the body outline is not fossilized soft tissues but a manufactured pigment indicating that the body outline is a forgery. Our discovery poses new questions about the validity of this enigmatic taxon.
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