Messel pit

MesselMessel Pit Fossil SiteMessel shalesMessel fossil siteMessel FormationGrube MesselMessel depositsMessel Fossil PitMessel Oil ShaleSenckenberg Forschungsstation
The Messel Pit (Grube Messel) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel, (Landkreis Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hesse) about 35 km southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.wikipedia
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Oil shale

bituminous shaleoil-shaleoil shales
Bituminous shale was mined there.
Some deposits contain significant fossils; Germany's Messel Pit has the status of a Unesco World Heritage Site.


Darwinius masillae47-million-year-old primate fossilDarwinius masilae
The only known fossil, called Ida, was discovered in 1983 at the Messel pit, a disused quarry near the village of Messel, about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Frankfurt, Germany.


Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodonPalaeochiropteryx spiegeli
It contains two very similar species – Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon and Palaeochiropteryx spiegeli, both from the famous Messel Pit of Germany.

Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Paleocene-Eocene Thermal MaximumPETMPaleocene-Eocene transition
The period was very close to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum and the climate and ecology of the site were very different.
The Messel pit biota, dated to the middle of the thermal maximum, indicate a tropical rainforest environment in South Germany.

Transfer technique

The amateurs developed the "transfer technique" that enabled them to preserve the fine details of small fossils, the method still employed in preserving the fossils today.
Notable examples of this technique are fossils preserved in oil shale (such as those from the Messel Pit) or other substrates that will deteriorate under atmospheric conditions, or fossils preserved in acid-soluble carbonates (such as fossils from the Santana Formation).


The Messel Pit (Grube Messel) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel, (Landkreis Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hesse) about 35 km southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis

Cordyceps unilateraliszombie fungusOphiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.
The symptomatic "dumb-bell"-shaped bite marks on either side of the leaf vein on a fossilised leaf have been identified as the death-grip of a carpenter ant terminally parasitized by the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, that, apparently then as today, commandeered its behavior, in order to release its spores from a favourable location; it is the earliest concrete sample of fungal behavioural manipulation.
A search of plant-fossil databases revealed similar marks on a fossil leaf from the Messel Pit, which is 48 million years old.


feisti'') has been found, and this was at the Messel Pit located southeast of Frankfurt, Germany.


Exceptional fossils have has been found in the Messel Pit of Germany.


AfredentataEurotamandua joresiEurotamanduidae
A single fossil is known, coming from the Messel Pit in southwestern Germany.


EomanidaeEomanis krebsiEomanis waldi
Fossils collected from the Messel Pit, Germany, indicate that this 50 cm long animal was rather similar to living pangolins.


leptictidLeptictidium auderienseLeptictidium listeri
Perfectly preserved fossils of three different species of Leptictidium have been found in the Messel pit in Germany.


Messel, Germany
The Messel Pit (Grube Messel) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel, (Landkreis Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hesse) about 35 km southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
The nearby Messel pit is an important site for Eocene fossils.


Ailuravus mitchelliAiluravus subita
Ailuravus macrurus ("big-tailed cat-ancestor") was a primitive, squirrel-like rodent, one of the earliest known rodents, from the Messel pit Lagerstätte, in Germany.


Other trogoniform fossils have been found in the Messel pit deposits from the mid-Eocene in Germany (49 mya), and in Oligocene and Miocene deposits from Switzerland and France respectively.


It was found in the Messel Pit in Germany.


artophoron'' from the Middle Eocene Messel shales, Germany.


Allaeochelys crassesculptaAllaeochelys libycaAllaeochelys rouzilhacensis
Fossils of the species Allaeochelys crassesculpta have been found in the Messel Pit near Darmstadt, Germany in pairs fossilised in the coital position.


Its fossils were found in the Messel pit, preserving even its fur.


Buxolestes minorBuxolestes piscator
The anatomy of these archaic "insectivorous" mammals is known through well-preserved Middle Eocene specimens found at Messel in Germany.


Bergisuchus is an extinct genus of small sebecosuchian mesoeucrocodylian known primarily from the Eocene Messel Pit in Germany.


A complete skeleton of the genus Paraprefica has been found in Messel, Germany.


P. weigeltiPalaeotis weigeltiPaleotis
HLMD Me 7530 was collected from the famous Messel shales.


Late EoceneMiddle EoceneEocene Epoch
The oil-shale bed originally extended to a depth of 190 m. 47 million years ago in the Eocene when the Messel deposits formed, the area was 10° further south than it is now.


Pholidocercus is an extinct monotypic genus of mammal from the Messel pit related to and resembling the modern-day hedgehog with a single species, Pholidocercus hassiacus.