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Fossil fish from the Green River Formation, an Eocene Lagerstätte
Diplacanthus acus, an exceptionally well preserved acanthodian fish (10 cm long) from the Late Devonian Waterloo Farm lagerstätte in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

A Lagerstätte (German: [ˈlaːɡɐˌʃtɛtə], from Lager 'storage, lair' Stätte 'place'; plural Lagerstätten) is a sedimentary deposit that exhibits extraordinary fossils with exceptional preservation—sometimes including preserved soft tissues. These formations may have resulted from carcass burial in an anoxic environment with minimal bacteria, thus delaying the decomposition of both gross and fine biological features until long after a durable impression was created in the surrounding matrix. Lagerstätten span geological time from the Neoproterozoic era to the present. Worldwide, some of the best examples of near-perfect fossilization are the Cambrian Maotianshan shales and Burgess Shale, the Silurian Waukesha Biota, the Devonian Hunsrück Slates and Gogo Formation, the Carboniferous Mazon Creek, the Jurassic Posidonia Shale and Solnhofen Limestone, the Cretaceous Yixian, Santana, and Agua Nueva formations, the Eocene Green River Formation, the Miocene Foulden Maar and Ashfall Fossil Beds, and the Pleistocene Naracoorte Caves and La Brea Tar Pits.


Palaeontologists distinguish two kinds:[1]

  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.
  2. Konservat-Lagerstätten (conservation Lagerstätten) are deposits known for the exceptional preservation of fossilized organisms or traces. 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.


Stranded scyphozoans with the trackways Climactichnites from Blackberry Hill, Wisconsin (Cambrian). Scyphozoan in foreground is 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter. Slab is in hyporelief.

Konservat-Lagerstätten preserve 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 behavior 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.[2] Information from the broader range of organisms found in Lagerstätten have 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.[3]

A number of taphonomic pathways may produce Lagerstätten. The following is an incomplete list:

Important Konservat-Lagerstätten[edit]

The world's major Lagerstätten include:

    Bitter Springs 1000–850 Mya South Australia
    Doushantuo Formation 600–555 Mya Guizhou Province, China
    Mistaken Point 565 Mya Newfoundland, Canada
    Ediacara Hills 550–545? Mya South Australia
    Qingjiang biota 518 Mya Hubei province, China
    Sirius Passet 518 Mya Greenland
    Maotianshan Shales (Chengjiang) 515 Mya Yunnan Province, China
    Emu Bay Shale 513 Mya South Australia
    Kaili Formation 513–501 Mya Guizhou province, south-west China
    Blackberry Hill ~510–500 Mya Central Wisconsin, US
    Burgess Shale 508 Mya British Columbia, Canada
    Spence Shale 507 Mya Northeastern Utah, Southeastern Idaho, US
    Wheeler Shale (House Range) 504 Mya Western Utah, US
    Marjum Formation 502 Mya Western Utah, US
    Weeks Formation 500 Mya Western Utah, US
    Kinnekulle Orsten and Alum Shale 500 Mya Sweden
    Fezouata Formation about 485 Mya Draa Valley, Morocco
    Douglas Dam Member 460 Mya Douglas Dam, Tennessee
    Beecher's Trilobite Bed 460? Mya New York, US
    Walcott-Rust Quarry about 455? Mya New York, US
    Soom Shale 450? Mya South Africa
    Waukesha Biota ~435 Mya Southeastern Wisconsin, US
    Coalbrookdale Formation ~430 Mya Herefordshire, England–Wales border, UK
    Rhynie chert 400 Mya Scotland, UK
    Hunsrück Slates (Bundenbach) 390 Mya Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
    Gogo Formation 380 Mya (Frasnian) Western Australia
    Miguasha National Park 370 Mya Québec, Canada
    Canowindra, New South Wales 360 Mya Australia
    Waterloo Farm lagerstätte 360 Mya South Africa
    Bear Gulch Limestone 320 Mya Montana, US
    Joggins Fossil Cliffs 315 Mya Nova Scotia, Canada
    Linton Diamond Coal Mine[4] 312 Mya Ohio, US
    Mazon Creek 310 Mya Illinois, US
    Montceau-les-Mines[5][6] 300 Mya France
    Hamilton Quarry 300 Mya Kansas, US
    Chemnitz petrified forest[7] 291 mya Saxony, Germany
    Mangrullo Formation[8] about 285–275 Mya (Artinskian) Uruguay
    Toploje Member[9] 273-264 mya Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica
    Madygen Formation 230 Mya Kyrgyzstan
    Cow Branch Formation 230 Mya Virginia, US
    Ghost Ranch 205 Mya New Mexico, US
    Holzmaden/Posidonia Shale 183 Mya Württemberg, Germany
    Mesa Chelonia[10] 164.6 Mya Shanshan County, China
    La Voulte-sur-Rhône 160 Mya Ardèche, France
    Karabastau Formation 155.7 Mya Kazakhstan
    Tiaojishan Formation 165-153 Mya Liaoning Province, China
    Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry 150 Mya Utah, US
    Solnhofen Limestone 145 Mya Bavaria, Germany
    Canjuers Lagerstätte 145 Mya France
    Agardhfjellet Formation 150-140 Mya Spitsbergen, Norway
    Las Hoyas about 125 Mya (Barremian) Cuenca, Spain
    Yixian Formation about 125–121 Mya Liaoning, China
    Shengjinkou Formation about 120 Mya Xinjiang, China
    Xiagou Formation about 120–115? Mya (mid-Apt.) Gansu, China
    Paja Formation 130-113 Mya Colombia
    Crato Formation about 117 Mya (Aptian) northeast Brazil
    Haqel/Hjoula/al-Nammoura about 95 Mya Lebanon
    Santana Formation 108–92 Mya Brazil
    Agua Nueva Formation 94–92 Mya Nuevo León, Mexico
    Smoky Hill Chalk 87–82 Mya Kansas and Nebraska, US
    Ingersoll Shale 85 Mya Alabama, US
    Auca Mahuevo 80 Mya Patagonia, Argentina
    Zhucheng 66 Mya Shandong, China
    Tanis[11] 66 Mya North Dakota, US
    Fur Formation 55–53 Mya Fur, Denmark
    London Clay 54–48 Mya England, UK
    McAbee Fossil Beds 52.9 ± 0.83 Mya British Columbia, Canada
    Green River Formation 50 Mya Colorado/Utah/Wyoming, US
    Klondike Mountain Formation 49.4 ± .5 Mya Washington, US
    Monte Bolca 49 Mya Verona, Italy
    Messel Oil Shale 49 Mya Hessen, Germany
    Quercy Phosphorites Formation[12] 25–45 Mya South-Western France
    Dominican amber 30–10 Mya Dominican Republic
    Riversleigh 25–15 Mya Queensland, Australia
    Foulden Maar 23 Mya Otago, New Zealand
    Chiapas amber 23-15 Mya Chiapas, Mexico[13]
    Clarkia fossil beds 20-17 Mya Idaho, US
    Barstow Formation 19–13.4 Mya California, US
    Shanwang Formation 18-17 Mya Shandong Province, China
    Ashfall Fossil Beds 11.83 Mya Nebraska, US
    Pisco Formation 15-2 Mya Arequipa & Ica, Peru
    McGraths Flat ~11-16 Mya NSW, Australia[14]
    Bullock Creek 12 Mya Northern Territory, Australia
    Alcoota Fossil Beds 8 Mya Northern Territory, Australia
    Gray Fossil Site 4.9-4.5 Mya Tennessee, US
    The Mammoth Site 26 Kya South Dakota, US
    Rancho La Brea Tar Pits 40–12 Kya California, US
    Waco Mammoth National Monument 65–51 Kya Texas, US
    El Breal de Orocual 2.5–1 Mya Monagas, Venezuela
    El Mene de Inciarte 25.5–28 Kya Zulia, Venezuela
    Naracoorte Caves 500-1 Kya South Australia, Australia

See also[edit]

  • List of fossil sites (with link directory)
  • Hoard, a concentration of human artifacts useful for similar reasons in archaeology


  1. ^ The term was originally coined by Adolf Seilacher in: Seilacher, A. (1970). "Begriff und Bedeutung der Fossil-Lagerstätten: Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Paläontologie". Monatshefte (in German). 1970: 34–39.
  2. ^ Briggs et al. 1983; Aldridge et al. 1993.[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Retallack, G. J. (2011). "Exceptional fossil preservation during CO2 greenhouse crises?". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 307 (1–4): 59–74. Bibcode:2011PPP...307...59R. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.04.023.
  5. ^ Garwood, Russell J.; Sharma, Prashant P.; Dunlop, Jason A.; Giribet, Gonzalo (2014). "A Paleozoic Stem Group to Mite Harvestmen Revealed through Integration of Phylogenetics and Development". Current Biology. 24 (9): 1017–23. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.039. PMID 24726154.
  6. ^ Perrier, V.; Charbonnier, S. (2014). "The Montceau-les-Mines Lagerstätte (Late Carboniferous, France)". Comptes Rendus Palevol. 13 (5): 353–67. doi:10.1016/j.crpv.2014.03.002.
  7. ^ Luthardt, Ludwig; Rößler, Ronny; Schneider, Joerg W. (1 January 2016). "Palaeoclimatic and site-specific conditions in the early Permian fossil forest of Chemnitz—Sedimentological, geochemical and palaeobotanical evidence". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 441: 627–652. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.10.015. Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  8. ^ Piñeiro, G.; Ramos, A.; Goso, C. S.; Scarabino, F.; Laurin, M. (2012). "Unusual Environmental Conditions Preserve a Permian Mesosaur-Bearing Konservat-Lagerstätte from Uruguay". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 57 (2): 299–318. doi:10.4202/app.2010.0113.
  9. ^ Slater, Ben J.; McLoughlin, Stephen; Hilton, Jason (June 2015). "A high-latitude Gondwanan lagerstätte: The Permian permineralised peat biota of the Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica". Gondwana Research. 27 (4): 1446–1473. doi:10.1016/ Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  10. ^ Wings, Oliver; Rabi, Márton; Schneider, Jörg W.; Schwermann, Leonie; Sun, Ge; Zhou, Chang-Fu; Joyce, Walter G. (2012), "An enormous Jurassic turtle bone bed from the Turpan Basin of Xinjiang, China", Naturwissenschaften, 114 (11): 925–35, Bibcode:2012NW.....99..925W, doi:10.1007/s00114-012-0974-5, PMID 23086389, S2CID 17423081
  11. ^ DePalma, Robert; et al. (2 April 2019). "A seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota". PNAS. 116 (17): 8190–8199. Bibcode:2019PNAS..116.8190D. doi:10.1073/pnas.1817407116. PMC 6486721. PMID 30936306.
  12. ^ Lalloy, F.; Rage, J. C.; Evans, S.E.; Boistel, R.; Lenoir, N.; Laurin, M. (2013). "A re-interpretation of the Eocene anuran Thaumastosaurus based on microCT examination of a 'mummified' specimen". PLOS ONE. 8 (9): 1–11. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...874874L. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074874. PMC 3783478. PMID 24086389.
  13. ^ Riquelme, Francisco; Hernández-Patricio, Miguel; Martínez-Dávalos, Arnulfo; et al. (2014). "Two Flat-Backed Polydesmidan Millipedes from the Miocene Chiapas-Amber Lagerstätte, Mexico". PLOS ONE. 9 (8): e105877. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...9j5877R. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105877. PMC 4146559. PMID 25162220.
  14. ^ McCurry, Matthew; Cantrill, David; Smith, Patrick; et al. (2022). "A Lagerstätte from Australia provides insight into the nature of Miocene mesic ecosystems". Science Advances. 8 (1): eabm1406. Bibcode:2022SciA....8.1406M. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abm1406. PMC 8741189. PMID 34995110.

Further reading[edit]