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Curriculum and activities       where works        Pietraroja  tour       Scipionyx history

Press rewiew
       Appointments       Interview with Marco Signore

Curriculum.   The Cultural Association "Un futuro a Sud" (A Future for South) was established in Benevento in January 1998, in collaboration with the Vertebrates Palaeontology research group of the "Federico II" University of Naples, with the goal to define a ten-year-long involvement.  Among different research and educational activities, the Association has organized in 1989 the exhibition entitled "Two hundred years ago: tours for the discovery of fossils in the Benevento Province", held in Benevento at the Samnium Museum patronized by the Local Administration. The museography director was Dr. Elio Galasso (Director of the Samnium Museum) and the Scientific director was Prof. Carmela Barbera of the University of Naples. Furthermore, it closely collaborates with the Italian Archeoclub (Section of Baselice) to establish a permanent exhibition of local fossils, opened in June 1996 during the Conference "Baselice ed il suo mare" (Baselice and its sea).  The main goal of the Association is to protect and valorize the geological resources of the Samnium region and is currently involved in an European partnership for the promotion of the fossill-langestatten. The collaborators are the Jura-Museum in Eichstatt, for the geological site in Solnhofen-Germany, and the Free University of Madrid, for the geological site in Las Hoyas-Spain.
The future goal is to expand the network ot other european langestatten in order to improve the organization of the Geopaleontologic Park in Pietraroja (Benevento-Italy).   This is a long and difficult process requiring a constant institutional involvement, an economical and professional support from local private enterprises. The internet web site, created with the technical support of local professionists, represents a first result and the willingness to realize what is today still "virtual".  

Activities. The works of the Association "A Future to South" are targeted at the the protection, promotion and exploitation of historical, artistic and enviromental resources and of artistic and cultural events. In particular, the Association will valorize the geo-enviromental, historical and social resources with the goal to develop a local consciousness of the "habitat" and, therefore, to build a social environment supportive for an enviroment-compatible development. In this framework the Association will :

  1. Organize conferences, seminars and courses;

  2. Promote the pubblication of guide-books, monographies, magazines and researches;

  3. Collect documents about the mentioned resources;

  4. Take part in initiatives concerning censuses, protection, exploitation, fruition and preservation of social and historical patrimony;

  5. Contribute to the territorial pianification and urban and extra urban qualification, with particular attention to enviromental monitoring, bio-engineering techniques and public parks;

  6. Carry out continuous activities of sensibilization and information, even through mass-media, about the state of the environment;

  7. Promote any useful contact with public administration and private institutes for better pursuing the Association’s finalities.


 Mappa Italia - in evidenza Beneventod 


Where works. Un Futuro A Sud. Cultural Association No profit c/o Luciano Campanelli Geologist via Nicola Calandra n. 7 - 82100 Benevento (Campania) Italy. tel/fax 0824-29437, info line 338-3431680, e-mail




Pietraroja tour. (from Sannio's fossills : A tour of 200 million years ago for discovery   the  fossills of the Benevento's territory).

Introduction. The province of Benevento, as well as Avellino e Campobasso, is part of the ancient Samnium Region and has an extension of 2.120 square meters. It looks like a big uneven alpine basin, almost completely included in the basin of medium and lower river Calore. The medium height is of about 900 meters, with its lowest point in Limatola (44 meters) and the highest over the Mutria Mount (1882 metres).   It is believed that today’s Calore valley was, some million years ago, a closed basin with a lake receiving water from the Calore, the Sabato and the Tammaro rivers. In even earlier ages (secondary and tertiary ages) the region was covered by the sea, as indicated by sea-sediments that form the ridges of Taburno-Camposauro, Matese and Partenio. This sediments, sometimes rich in fossils and variously coloured, are used as decorative stones and improperly called marbles. The most precious of these marbles is the so-called “Lumachella” that is quarried and worked in Vitulano. Of remarkable economical interest is also the pearly marble querried near Cusano Mutri, Telese e Pietraroja. Our route to the discovery of Samnium fossils leads us through the mountains of Matese and Taburno-Camposauro, all the way down to Montesarchio valley passing trought the fields that mark the borders between Puglia, Molise e Campania. 

From Benevento to Pietraroja (about km. 95 circa)

This represents the most interesting route to the discovery of fossils in Samnium. From Cerreto Sannita, still keeping its eighteenth-century town-structure, begins a stretch of beautiful landscape. In fact you will be in the wild gorge carved by Titerno river in the mesozoic limestones of Monaco di Gioa, which represent one of the most beautiful and complete sedimentary successions of the southern Appennino, rich in microflora and microfauna of great interest. Once you have crossed the Titerno valley, passing trought Cusano Mutri, you will get to Pietraroja. The name Pietraroja (red stone) comes from the red color of bauxite (mineral of alluminium) that was abundant in the area. Up to a few decades ago, on the Regie Piane, rich alluminium mines were exploited by the Montecatini Industry. Recently they have been closed because the import of minerals from other countries is more convenient. The village of Pietraroja stands right above the rocky bastions of its homonymous Civita (918 meters) and it is known since 1798, when Scipione Breislack mentioned its fossil fishes for the first time. Afterword, the place was mentioned by others such as Costa, Bassani and D’Erasmo. 

Geology. Pietraroia is placed south of the calcareous spur of Mount Mutria that, with its 1882 meters of height, is tallest point of the province of Benevento. The litology of the area is made of limestones mostly compact and with thin layers, ahite, tin and grey. The limestones with fossil fishes, af the aptiano-albian age, 120 million years of age (mesozoic age, cretaceous period), are made of a pack of layers a few tens of meters thick. They come in surface in a little valley north-east of Pietraroja (Le Cavere) as well as inn the northern and western borders of Civita (Mount Cigno and Civita di Cusano). The collections of fishes studied by Costa, D’Erasmo and others come from the place called "Le Cavere", where new excavations were made in 1982. After that, the area has been put under protection of the Superintendences of Salerno, Avellino e Benevento and became the first italian “Geopaleontological Park”. The fauna coming from “Le Cavere” includes crustacea, remains of Echinidi, a number of fishes, amphibians and reptiles besides many traces and tracks of organism. Over these limestones of cretaceous perios, are found the Miocene limestones of Langhiano-Serravalliano age, about 20 million years ago (cenozoic age, miocenic period). On the right side of the geopaleontological park its possible to observe traces of the “miocenic trasgression”, representing the contact between the cretaceous and miocenic grounds due to the invasion of a miocenic sea over a ground made of cretaceous sediments; the intermediate missing terms (upper cretaceous, Eocene and Oligocene) have probably been eroded. Such "trasgression", taking place after a long period of continentality, is confirmed by the presence, over the cretaceous limestones, of perforations due to lithophagous sea-organism, belonging to the “Pholas” genus. Not far from the geopaleontological park, in the surfacing of mostly sandy grounds, opens up the "Cava Canale". This cave has provided for years the “pearly”, a limestone of briozoa and litotamni, used as a decorative stone and costruction material.  

Fossils. The up comings at "Le Cavere" have provided an interesting fauna including crustacea, remains of Echinidi, fishes, amphibians and reptiles, all about 120 million years old. The species identified up to now are :

Scipionyx Samniticus (so-called "Ciro" ) the world unique baby dinosaur of 113  millions years ago. Reptilia (Chometokadmon fitzingeri - Costasaurus rusconi).Amphibia (Albanerpeton megacephalus). Pisces (Rhinobatus obtusatus), (?) Phorcynus sp. Coelodus costai.Paleobalistum bassanii . Metagogus petlandi. Propterus scacchi. Lepidotus minor. Belonostomus crassirostris. Belonostomus sp.  Oenoscopus petraroiae. Leptolepis brodiei. Aethalion robustus. Sauropsidium laevissimum. Elopopsis aff.  Hemielopopsis gibbus. Hypsospondylus bassanii. Chanos leopoldi sp. Chirocentrites coroninii. Diplomystus brevissimus. Crustacea  (?) Pseudastacus sp. 

Pietraroja's fossils images 

The litofauna includes species belonging to families and genera still partially living in tropical and subtropical seas. Two fossil reptiles are particularly interesting, both classified as Chometokadmon fitzingery (Fam. Sphaenodontidae, ord. Rhynocephalia). The first specimen, described for the first time by Costa, is about 287 mm. long, while the second one is about 187 mm long; they are both the ancestors of Rinocefali . The latters, studied by Darvwin in the last century, are considered living fossils and also the most direct descendants of dinosaurs. This hypothesis is moreover supported by the small-size dinosaurs living in Pietroroja, as the Scipionix Samniticus found in 1980. The excavations of 1982 have brought to light many other interesting findings, such as a crocodile currently in restoration at the University of Torin. The up comings in miocenic limestones (20 million years ago) are rich in Foraminiphera, calcareous seaweds (Rodophita, red seaweedh), Arthropods (Balanus), Mollusca (pettinidi and ostreidi), Briozoa, Echinoderma. 15 centimeters long teeth of Charcarodon megalodon, a blue shark ancestor, have also been found; this animal had about 4000 teeth and must have been more than ten meters long. 

Enviromental reconstruction. Among the authors who tried to reconstruct the paleogeographic and paleobioenviromental of Pietraroja fossil areas, D’Argenio and Freels have to be mentioned. D’Argenio makes a detailed examination of the enviromental circumstances in which the deposit of Pietraroja fossil vertebrates formed and reaches the conclusion that these limestones sedimented in lagoon-like area, not very deep, with warm calm waters with occasional exchanges with the open sea. In such a lagoon mostly occurred a biochemical sedimentation, probably due to bacteria that made the waters unsuitable for any other life-form, absorbing oxigen and releasing toxic gases (H2S). As consequence of the periodic interruption of this biochemical process, several animals reached the waters now rich in oxigen, but they not survived at   the restoration of the usual enviromental conditions. Freels suggests that lithographic limestones laid down in narrow basins derived from submarine erosions slowly and continuously moving. Small peat additions, deriving from the borders of the basinis, filled them up with materials of the surrounding facies. Lithographic limestones belong to the fossil deposits so-called “stagnant deposits”. 


Scipionyx history.   Ciro's history. "Ciro" was discovered in Pietraroja (Benevento), in a winter afternoon in 1980, by Giovanni Todesco and his wife Giovanna, two amateur paleontologist from San Giovanni Ilarione (Verona). In 1993, while watching the movie "Jurassic Park", Giovanni Todesco and his wife realized that what they had recovered many years before in Pietraroja was a dinosaur. They immediately contacted the Natural Sciences Museum in Milan, where the fossil has undergone to a restoration ended in march 27, 1998. Ciro’s scientific name is "Scipionix Samniticus" ("Scipio" comes from Scipione Breislak, the discoverer of the fossil area in Pietraroja in 1798; "onix" (claw) stands for the characteristic legs used by the predator to catch his preys; "Samniticus", samnite, in memory of the area of the discovery). It was a baby dinosaur, 24 centimeters tall (when adult, he would have been 2 meters tall and 200 Kg heavy), and it was born 113 million years ago, in full lower Cretaceous. "Ciro" lived just a few weeks, then, probably, he was swept away by a water stream and buried at the bottom of a swamp. As many paleontologist of international renown say, "Ciro" is a finding of extraordinary importance because it is the only dinosaur with internal organs well preserved and clearly visible.


Press rewiew.

Broadcast interview (Radio RAI)
Exclusive interview to the Research Group (Telebenevento)
Other press review (see italian version and go to traductor on line button)

Appointments and meetings.

March 26 1998. Press Conference to present article appeared in the "Nature" Magazine  Museo Civico of Milan. - April 18 1998. Excursion to Pietraroja, organized by the University of Naples. April 21 1998. Provincial Council of Benevento on "Ciro" the dinosaur. - May 21 1998. The BBC television network in Pietraroja. - May 22 1998. Meeting on Scipionix Samniticus at the Trading Chamber - Benevento.  - June 13 1998. Conference on "A pact for Ciro" politicians speaking. - September 4 1998. Opening of the artistic exhibition of sculptor Giovenale "Reunite Times" - Benevento, offices of the Province. - September 7 1998. Discovery Channel television network in Pietraroja. - September 24 1998. Opening of fossil show and mushroom party - Cusano Mutri (Benevento). - 24 March 1999. Scipionyx samniticus International Meeting Telese Terme Benevento. - September 9, 1999. International simposium Bergamo September. - 18 1999 Mushroom's Boletus Festival- Cusano Mutri (fossills Show) -   December 1999 January 2000. Tour in the prehistoriy   (Fifteen Dinosaurs in Natural size show) Rocca dei Rettori Benevento - April,19 2000 - December 31, 2001 Show original fossil Scipionyx Samniticus dinosaur, Rocca dei Rettori, Benevento - November, 3, 2000. Presentation book of Marco Signore "A life for dinosaurs : Scipionyx samniticus and new paleontology's discovery. The fossills tells", Samnium Museum of Benevento.