Lagerstatten is a German word referring to the "mother lode": the vein of gold or silver that makes its finder rich. Applied to paleontology, it is a rock formation with wonderful preservation. Your first-choice Web site for lagerstatten is here at the University of Bristol. Below are other links to
- The Solnhofen Limestone (Late Jurassic).
- The Fossils of Liaoning province, China (Early Cretaceous).
- The Fossils of Messel (Eocene)
- The Mazon Creek Formation
- The Green River Formation
- The La Brea Tar Pits
- Dinosaur Soft Tissue Preserved
- Bacteria in Salt Formations?
- Lagerstätten Trivia (you have been warned!)
The Solnhofen Limestone
Home of Archaeopteryx and many beautiful pterosaur fossils.
The Fossils of Liaoning Province, China
The Fossils of Messel
The Mazon Creek Formation
The Green River Formation
The La Brea Tar Pits
Actually, this is redundant, because La Brea means "tar".
Dinosaur Soft Tissue Preserved.
Mary Schweitzer and her discovery of soft tissue preserved in dinosaur bones. Discover magazine, April 2006.
Bacteria in Salt Formations?
Here is a claim of bacteria recovered alive from Permian salt beds, 250 million years old!
Fossil feathers found inside fossil louse. BBC News OnLine, March 4, 2004. It's therefore a pretty good bet that the louse was living on a bird (of Eocene age, in this case).
Penis envy among palaoentologists.
In October 2003, with great fanfare, the discovery was announced of the oldest fossilized penis. National Geographic News, October 6, 2003. No, it's not a relic of Brian Boru. It's still attached to a fossil harvestman: a type of spider, from the 400-million year old Devonian-age Rhynie Chert of Scotland (see Chapter 8). I have a vague memory that the ostracods of the Cambrian Orsten deposits in Scandinavia have soft parts preserved in phosphate, including sex organs: but I have to go back and check that. The paper was in Nature, so is not generally available on the Web.
HOWEVER, the stakes have now been raised? lowered? by a new paper, this time in Science. This records the presence of a smaller, older penis in a Silurian ostracod. BBC News OnLine, December 5, 2003.
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Last updated June 18, 2007.
Links checked October 17, 2006.