From Dinosaurs to Digs: 72-Million-Year-Old Snail Fossil Unearthed in Romania

A recent groundbreaking discovery in Romania has unearthed a 72-million-year-old fossil of a snail species, Ferussina petofiana, which remarkably survived the mass extinction event that eradicated dinosaurs. This finding, made in the Hațeg Basin of Romania, has significant implications for our understanding of the survival and evolution of species across major extinction events.

Ferussina petofiana, a new species within the extinct genus Ferussina, is known to have existed during the Paleogene period. Previously, Ferussina species were only recorded from the Middle Eocene to the Upper Oligocene and possibly the Upper Miocene deposits in Western Europe, including countries like France, Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy. This discovery in Romania represents the oldest and the easternmost representative of its genus, extending its known geographical range and chronological existence significantly.

The fossil, notable for its small size with a shell diameter of about 10.8 mm and a height of 4.4 mm, was discovered in the Densuș-Ciula Formation. The shell is characterized by a depressed, flat base, a domed dorsal surface, and a rounded or slightly shouldered body whorl. The last quarter of the shell turns upright, elevating higher than the apex, a unique feature that distinguishes this species.

This discovery is particularly remarkable as it indicates that Ferussina petofiana survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction event, which occurred about 66 million years ago. This event is known for causing the extinction of numerous species, including the dinosaurs. The presence of Ferussina in the Maastrichtian age layers extends the chronostratigraphic range of the genus by approximately 23 million years. Furthermore, the geographic distribution of Ferussina, initially confined to Western Europe during the Paleogene, has been extended eastward to Romania during the Late Cretaceous.

The sole specimen of Ferussina petofiana adds to the limited list of European species that persisted after the K-Pg event. This discovery not only provides a crucial extension to the chronostratigraphic range of the genus but also offers new insights into the evolutionary history of the snail species and their survival strategies during one of the most catastrophic mass extinctions in Earth’s history. This finding has reset scientific understanding of the genus and expanded knowledge about the evolutionary dynamics following the mass extinction event.

This discovery, published in the journal Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, highlights the continuous surprises held within the fossil record and the ongoing need for paleontological exploration to understand life’s resilience and adaptability through Earth’s history.

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