Isotope Lab dates new Late Cretaceous species named after David Bowie

Artistic rendering of a Bowie-esque Brasilestes stardusti, missing the tooth that led to this study. Artwork by Camila Alli Chair.

The discovery of a single premolar tooth in Sao Paulo State, Brazil, led to the identification of a new Late Cretaceous species related to both placental and marsupial mammals. The new mammal’s name, Brasilestes stardusti, honors the late David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. 

Jahandar Ramezani and Kaori Tsukui-Shockey used high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronology to date the type stratum, yielding a maximum depositional age of 87.78 ± 0.12 Ma. The new chronostratigraphy, along with overlying dinosaur-bearing beds, indicates the animal was buried between 87.8 Ma (late Coniacan) and the late Maastrictian.

Published in Royal Society Open Science, the research was a collaboration between the University of São Paulo–Ribeirão Preto, the National University of La Plata, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, the University of Campinas, and MIT.

Ryan Frazer
I am a Senior Research Support Associate in the Bowring Isotope Lab at MIT.