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Expanding the frontiers of research in biomineralization and fossil preservation

Grant number: 22/06485-5
Support Opportunities:Generation Program Research Grant
Duration: October 01, 2023 - September 30, 2028
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Physics - Nuclear Physics
Principal Investigator:Gabriel Ladeira Oses
Grantee:Gabriel Ladeira Oses
Host Institution: Instituto de Física (IF). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers: Afonso César Rodrigues Nogueira ; Cibele Gasparelo Voltani ; Douglas Galante ; Evelyn Aparecida Mecenero Sanchez Bizan ; Fabio Rodrigues ; Guilherme Raffaeli Romero ; Gustavo Macedo de Paula Santos ; Hellen Cristine Santos Zagatto ; Ismar de Souza Carvalho ; JOSE BANDEIRA CAVALCANTE DA SILVA JUNIOR ; Márcia de Almeida Rizzutto ; Mírian Liza Alves Forancelli Pacheco ; Philip Richard Wilby ; Rachel Alison Waye Wood ; Sergio Caetano Filho ; Simon Poulton
Associated scholarship(s):23/17293-2 - Local and global controls for exceptional fossil preservation in Jurassic-Cretaceous fossiliferous units of Brazil, BP.DR
23/14250-0 - Expanding the frontiers of research in biomineralization and fossil preservation, BP.GR


The relationship between life and the environment offers several perspectives in the study of the geological record and Brazilian fossils have worldwide importance in this discussion. The Ediacaran-Cambrian transition (ca. 541 Ma) marked the emergence of animals capable of synthesizing skeletons made up of minerals (biomineralizing animals), or actively exploring the substrate, which resulted in biological diversification. In the Cambrian Period, there was the so-called 'Cambrian explosion' of life, the most expressive event of diversification in the history of life on Earth, including the profusion of biomineralized groups, the development of the phyla's body plans and the intensification of bioturbation. Questions about the original composition, fossilization, affinity and association of these biomineralizers with oxygenation events are still open. In this context, the study of fossil preservation (Taphonomy) is essential to assess the processes that may bias the fossil record. In this sense, there are uncertainties about the differentiation between local and global mechanisms of preservation and how they relate to different moments and tectonic and sedimentary contexts in Earth's history. Currently, the most innovative approach to test hypotheses involving these issues is the use of Paleometry, that is, imaging, spectroscopic and geochemical techniques that make it possible to extract information with a high level of detail from fossils. However, some issues in Paleontology still face barriers in the existing instrumentation. This project has the following innovative objectives: (1) explore Ediacaran and Cambrian units in search of new fossils, allowing a better understanding of the biological diversity of the past; (2) investigate the biomineralization and preservation of these fossils; (3) deepen the understanding of the dynamics of the relationship between macrofossils and oxygenation in the Ediacaran and Cambrian; (4) understand local and global preservation mechanisms in Precambrian and Phanerozoic geological units; and, (5) develop new instrumentation to break through barriers in the characterization of fossil preservation processes. For that, paleometric imaging, spectroscopic and geochemical techniques will be used. (AU)

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