far less famous than other fossil sites exhibiting exquisite
preservation, the sublithographic
limestone deposits near Sahel Alma, Hajoula and Haqel,
Lebanon have emerged to be recognized as truly world
class. The strata date to the Cenomanian Stage of the
some 93-97 million years ago. While best known for magnificant
fish fossils, the site yield a wide diversity of other
marine life, particularly invertebrates such
as shrimp and lobsters.
were made when the region was made up of warm and shallow
seas with small basins. These deposits now rest
some 270 meters below the current surface. Geologists now
believe these basins had their origins at the intersection
of block fault systems.
The Baensch Fossil Atlas lists over 70 genera of fish found
within these deposits, most
of which are known from unparalleled-quality specimens
preserved in remarkable detail. While younger than Solhnofen,
Lebanese sublithographic limestone yield fossils of roughly
equivalent details of preservation, though the better
Solnhofen fossils are largely played out, and now only
found in old collections.
Octopus fossils are found in the Lebanese Lagerstätte,
and are greatly prized because these soft bodied
animals (except for beak and vestigal shells in some species),
are rarely preserved in any fossil site. Some plants are
are found as fossils, though they are rare. Among the three
distinct fossil localities, there is some overlap of fish
genera, but many genera are locally unique. The sites were
first noted in the scientific literature. In 2001, a pterosaur
was described from the Hâqel site.