Wednesday, 11 November 2020


Florissantia from Quilchena
Highly recommend the tasty paleo goodies shared on the Fossil Bonanza website and podcast. Both sites are dedicated to Fossil-Lagerstätten — the passion of Andy Connolly, a museum educator out of Utah. 

Fossil-Lagerstätten are unusual fossil sites found across the globe. A Lagerstätte is a sedimentary deposit with extraordinary fossils preservation. If we are truly lucky, this includes the preservation of soft tissues in remarkable detail. 

Fossil-Lagerstätten can be formed in a number of ways. Sometimes an animal or plant is buried in an anoxic or low oxygen environment with minimal bacteria to break down the organic material. In this case, decomposition is minimized. 

Even better if the burial happens quickly so that no scavengers can enjoy a tasty snack and the entire specimen is preserved. This type of burial preserves both the gross and fine biological features. If you look at the Florissantia petals above, they look like you may have pressed a modern blossom between the pages of a book. While this lovely is from Ypresian, Early Eocene, deposits near Quilchena, British Columbia, it looks as though it could reasonably have been plucked this year. In the case of Quilchena, the perfect blossom was preserved in a lakebed setting with fine silt that quickly covered and pressed down upon the pedals so that they are preserved here as impressions and carbonaceous films.

The Earth occasionally blesses us with Lagerstätten which can amass thousands, sometimes millions of preserved fossils in stunning quality. Birds can be found with their bones perfectly intact and feathers arranged in a beautiful display. 

Flowers are captured in full bloom — as in the case of the lovely Florissantia above — and leaves look as if they had just fallen from a tree. Even amber-entombed insects have their tiny, delicate hairs untouched. Some of these fossil sites are quite well known: La Brea Tar Pits in California or Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado. 

Others fly under the collective radar — Grube Messel in Germany or the Naracoorte Caves in Australia. Nevertheless — these sites all contribute vast quantities of knowledge about our ancient worlds and fill in the gaps that would otherwise be empty forever. 

Konservat-Lagerstätten preserves lightly sclerotized and soft-bodied organisms or traces of organisms that are not otherwise preserved in the usual shelly and bony fossil record; thus, they offer more complete records of ancient biodiversity and behaviour and enable some reconstruction of the palaeoecology of ancient aquatic communities. 

In 1986, Simon Conway Morris calculated only about 14% of genera in the Burgess Shale had possessed biomineralized tissues in life. The affinities of the shelly elements of conodonts were mysterious until the associated soft tissues were discovered near Edinburgh, Scotland, in the Granton Lower Oil Shale of the Carboniferous. 

Information from the broader range of organisms found in Lagerstätten has contributed to recent phylogenetic reconstructions of some major metazoan groups. Lagerstätten seem to be temporally autocorrelated, perhaps because global environmental factors such as climate might affect their deposition

I've popped the link here for you. Definitely worth checking out!