- Solnhofen limestone
The Solnhofen limestone is a
JurassicKonservat-Lagerstätte that preserves a rare assemblage of fossilized organisms, some of which, such as sea jellies, don't ordinarily fossilize at all. Others, like the early bird" Archaeopteryx" are preserved in such detail that they are among the most famous and most beautiful fossils in the world.
The Solnhofen beds lie in the German state of
Bavaria, halfway between Nurembergand Munich. During the Late Jurassic, this area was an archipelagoat the edge of the Tethys Sea. This included placid lagoons that had limited access to the open sea and where salinity rose high enough that the resulting brine could not support life. Since the lowest water was devoid of oxygen, many ordinary scavengers were absent. Any organism that fell, drifted, or was washed into the lagoons from the ocean or the land became buried in soft carbonatemud. Thus, many delicate creatures avoided consumption by scavengers or being torn apart by currents. The wings of dragonflies, the imprints of stray feathers, and terrestrial plants that washed into the lagoons were all preserved. The fossils are not numerous, but some of them are spectacular, and their range gives a comprehensive picture of a local Jurassic ecosystem.
At times, the lagoons almost dried out, exposing sticky carbonate muds that trapped insects and even a few small
dinosaurs. Over 600 species have been identified, including twenty-nine kinds of pterosaurranging from the size of a sparrow to 1.2 m (4 ft) in length have been found.
The fine-grained texture of the mud
siltforming the limestonefrom the Solnhofenarea (which is composed mainly of the towns of Solnhofenand Eichstätt) is ideal for making lithographic plates, and extensive quarrying in the 19th century revealed many fossil finds, as commemorated in the name "Archaeopteryx lithographica", all the specimens of which come from these deposits.
List of fossil sites"(with link directory)"
List of types of limestone
List of dinosaur-bearing rock formations
* [http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mesozoic/jurassic/solnhofen.html University of California Berkeley offers a brief introduction.]
* [http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Fossil_Sites/solnhofen/Solnhofen_Lagerstatt.htm Another brief description.]
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