Fossil Record

Lagerstätte Definition

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Fossil Record


A Lagerstätte (also spelled Lagerstatte and Lagerstaette) is a fossil site exhibiting extraordinary preservation and often faunal or floral diversity. The word translates from the German as Lager and Stätte; literally meaning "place of storage"; the plural form is Lagerstätten).

Science distinguishes two types of Lagerstätten:

Burgess Shale Priapulid Ottoia FossilKonzentrat-Lagerstätten (concentration Lagerstätten)

Konzentrat-Lagerstätten are deposits having a concentration of disarticulated organic hard parts, such as a bone bed. These Lagerstätten are generally less important to science 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 ecological community, such as reefs or oyster beds, are not considered Lagerstätten.

Konservat-Lagerstätten (conservation Lagerstätten)

Konservat-Lagerstätten, on the other hand, are deposits known for the extraordinary preservation of fossilized life forms, especially where the soft parts are preserved. Such exquisite preservation require specific Vetulicola cuneata from Chengjiang Maotianshan Shalesenvironmental conditions, such as anoxic (little or no oxygen) mud and sediment that inhibits bacterial decomposition processes for enough time for mineral exchange, precipitation, and other chemical processes to form casts and films of delicate softer body parts.

Most of the famous Lagerstätten are Konservat-Lagerstätten. Perhaps the early Cambrian Burgess Shale of Canada ranks among the most famous. The Chengjiang Maotianshan Shales are even younger. These Lagerstätten together with others have yielded enormous insights into the Cambrian Explosion when most phyla in the tree of life first appear in the fossil record. There are a large number of Lagerstätten spread across the planet and geological time.

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