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Fossil fish from the Green River Formation, an Eocene Lagerstätte

A Lagerstätte (from the German words Lager and Stätte; literally "place of storage"; plural Lagerstätten) is a sedimentary deposit that exhibits extraordinary fossil richness or completeness.

Palaeontologists distinguish two kinds.[1]

Konzentrat-Lagerstätten (concentration Lagerstätten) are deposits with a particular concentration of disarticulated organic hard parts, such as a bone bed. These Lagerstätten are less spectacular than the more famous Konservat-Lagerstätten. Their contents invariably display a large degree of time averaging, as the accumulation of bones in the absence of other sediment takes some time. Deposits with a high concentration of fossils that represent an in-situ community, such as reefs or oyster beds, are not considered Lagerstätten.

Konservat-Lagerstätten (conservation Lagerstätten) are deposits known for the exceptional preservation of fossilized organisms, where the soft parts are preserved in the form of impressions or casts. This is caused by incompleteness of biological recycling, for example where anoxic conditions, as in oxygen-free mud, has suppressed common bacterial decomposition long enough for the initial casts of soft body parts to register. The individual taphonomy of the fossils varies with the sites. Conservation Lagerstätten are crucial in providing answers to important moments in the history and evolution of life, for example the Burgess Shale of British Columbia is associated with the Cambrian explosion, and the Solnhofen limestone with the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx.


Konservat-Lagerstätten preserve lightly sclerotized and soft-bodied organisms that are not otherwise preserved in the usual shelly and bony fossil record; thus they offer a more complete record of ancient biodiversity and enable some reconstruction of the palaeoecology of ancient aquatic communities. In 1986 Simon Conway Morris calculated that 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.[2] Information from the broader range of organisms found in Lagerstätten have contributed to recent phylogenetic reconstructions of some major metazoan groups.

A number of taphonomic pathways may produce lagerstätten. Here's an incomplete list:

Important Lagerstätten

The world's major Lagerstätten include:

Marrella, the most abundant Burgess Shale organism.
    Bitter Springs 1000-850 Ma South Australia
    Doushantuo Formation 600–555 Ma Guizhou Province, China
    Maotianshan shales (Chengjiang) 525 Ma Yunnan Province, China
    Emu Bay shale 525 Ma South Australia
    Sirius Passet 518 Ma Greenland
    Kaili Formation 513–501 Ma Guizhou province, southwest China
    Wheeler Shale (House Range) 507 Ma Western Utah, USA
    Burgess Shale 505 Ma British Columbia, Canada
    Kinnekulle Orsten and Alum Shale 500 Ma Sweden
    Öland Orsten and Alum Shale 500 Ma Sweden
    Walcott-Rust quarry c.450 Ma New York, USA
    Beecher's Trilobite Bed 445 Ma New York, USA
    Soom Shale 435 Ma South Africa
    Wenlock Series 420 Ma England
    Rhynie chert 400 Ma Scotland
    Hunsrück Slates 390 Ma Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
    Canowindra, New South Wales 360 Ma Australia
    Gogo Formation 350 Ma Western Australia
    Bear Gulch Limestone 320 Ma Montana, USA
    Joggins Fossil Cliffs 315 Ma Nova Scotia, Canada
    Mazon Creek 300 Ma Illinois, USA
    Hamilton Quarry 295 Ma Kansas, USA
    Karatau 230 Ma Kazakhstan
    Ghost Ranch 205 Ma New Mexico, USA
    Holzmaden 180 Ma Württemberg, Germany
    La Voulte-sur-Rhone 160 Ma Ardèche, France
    Solnhofen limestone 145 Ma Bavaria, Germany
    Yixian Formation ca 135 Ma Liaoning, China
    Crato Formation ca 117 Ma (Aptian) northeast Brazil
    Xiagou Formation ca 110 Ma Gansu, China
    Santana Formation 108–92 Ma Brazil
    Smoky Hill Chalk 87–82 Ma Kansas and Nebraska, USA
    Ingersoll Shale 85 Ma Alabama, USA
    Auca Mahuevo 80 Ma Patagonia, Argentina
    Zhucheng 65 Ma Shandong, China
    Green River Formation 50 Ma Colorado/Utah/Wyoming, USA
    Monte Bolca 49 Ma Italy
    Messel Oil Shale 49 Ma Hessen, Germany
    London Clay 54–48 Ma UK
     MoClay 55–43 Ma DK
    Dominican amber 30–10 Ma Dominican Republic
    Riversleigh 25–15 Ma Queensland, Australia
    Clarkia fossil beds 20–17 Ma Idaho, USA
    Ashfall Fossil Beds 10 Ma Nebraska, USA
    Rancho La Brea Tar Pits 20,000 yrs BP California, USA

See also


  1. ^ The term was originally coined by Adolf Seilacher here:Seilacher, A. (1970). "Begriff und Bedeutung der Fossil-Lagerstätten: Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Paläontologie" (in German). Monatshefte 1970: 34–39. 
  2. ^ Briggs et al. 1983; Aldridge et al. 1993.



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