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The Mystery of the Eocene’s Lethal Lake

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 Archeology / Paleontology   |   Biology   |   Science
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In 1800s, miners began working in exposed deposits of mud near the town of Messel, Germany. They were extracting oil from the rock and along with the oil, they found beautifully preserved fossils of animals from the Eocene. What happened to these Eocene animals? And why were their remains so exquisitely preserved?

Two additional notes!
-At 00:56, we incorrectly labelled a Darwinius fossil as Thaumaturus. Thaumaturus was a fish and the fossil we show is definitely not a fish.
-Also, an additional image credit is required: Dmitry Bogdanov illustrated the fish we used to show scavengers.

Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: http://youtube.com/pbsdigitalstudios

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References:
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Vaselli, Orlando, et al. "The “evil’s winds”(mazukus) at Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)." Acta Vulcanol 2003 (2002): 14-15.
Zhang, Youxue. "Dynamics of CO2-driven lake eruptions." Nature 379.6560 (1996): 57.
Storch, Gerhard, Bernard Sigé, and Jörg Habersetzer. "Tachypteron franzeni n. gen., n. sp., earliest emballonurid bat from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Mammalia, Chiroptera)." Paläontologische Zeitschrift 76.2 (2002): 189-199.
Franzen, Jens Lorenz, Christine Aurich, and Jörg Habersetzer. "Description of a well preserved fetus of the European Eocene Equoid Eurohippus messelensis." PloS one 10.10 (2015): e0137985.
Franzen, J. L. "Exceptional preservation of Eocene vertebrates in the lake deposit of Grube Messel (West Germany)." Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 311.1148 (1985): 181-186.
Lenz, Olaf K., et al. "New palynology-based astronomical and revised 40 Ar/39 Ar ages for the Eocene maar lake of Messel (Germany)." International Journal of Earth Sciences 104.3 (2015): 873-889.
Joyce, Walter G., et al. "Caught in the act: the first record of copulating fossil vertebrates." Biology Letters 8.5 (2012): 846-848.
Vitek, Natasha S., et al. "Exceptional three-dimensional preservation and coloration of an originally iridescent fossil feather from the Middle Eocene Messel Oil Shale." Paläontologische Zeitschrift 87.4 (2013): 493-503.
https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/720
Koenigswald, Wighart V., Andreas Braun, and Thekla Pfeiffer. "Cyanobacteria and seasonal death: a new taphonomic model for the Eocene Messel lake." Paläontologische Zeitschrift 78.2 (2004): 417-424.
Pirrung, Michael, G. Buchel, and Wolfgang Jacoby. "The Tertiary volcanic basins of Eckfeld, Enspel and Messel (Germany)." ZEITSCHRIFT-DEUTSCHEN GEOLOGISCHEN GESELLSCHAFT 152.1 (2001): 27-60.
Franzen, Jens L., et al. "Complete primate skeleton from the middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: morphology and paleobiology." PLoS one 4.5 (2009): e5723.

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