The Mystery of the Eocene’s Lethal Lake

  • Published on: 17 July 2018
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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.

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    Kling, George W., et al. "The 1986 lake nyos gas disaster in cameroon, west Africa." Science 236.4798 (1987): 169-175.
    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.
    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.
  • Runtime : 8:34
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history germany messel eocene Lagerstätte darwinius mammals birds turtles bats cyanobacteria bacteria lake Lake Nyos mazukus carbon dioxide stratification limnic eruption fur feathers algae shale oil siderite messel pit


  • Aira Andrea
    Aira Andrea   2 minuts ago

    I sometimes pause the video to let him breath. I had to check if the playback speed was on normal lol

  • Razor Ransom
    Razor Ransom   1 days ago

    CO2 spouting lake like in Africa that spouted from time to time is what I think. Ahah! They think the same thing 😎

  • cowofthemonth
    cowofthemonth   4 days ago

    Look up what happened at lake Nyos, pretty intense

  • Aeturnalis
    Aeturnalis   4 days ago

    Thank you for correctly pronouncing Lagerstätte!

  • Okiesteeler01
    Okiesteeler01   1 weeks ago

    They died almost instantly. It almost like they were covered up in a flood

  • Veronica Cawelti
    Veronica Cawelti   1 weeks ago

    America from scratch? No. I'll do my own research on that subject.

  • Donn Law
    Donn Law   2 weeks ago

    It's SID-ER--ITE, not SYD-ER-ITE... thank you

  • Wesleygamer1
    Wesleygamer1   2 weeks ago

    Government: " Hey you know that spot of useless land that has fossils full of our natural history and can add to our documented fossil record. Let's throw trash there. "Scientist: " Could you not ?"( Usually scientists don't win that argument. )I swear I hate governments.................and people.

  • ronibopshop
    ronibopshop   2 weeks ago

    I was surprised when you said carbon dioxide, I was thinking methane :)

  • Nerys Ghemor
    Nerys Ghemor   3 weeks ago

    So I'm assuming Messel is no longer at risk of eruptions?

  • Nick Niva
    Nick Niva   3 weeks ago

    can you guys stop providing me with a nearly unlimited supply of awesome videos that make me no longer require a college education

  • flamencoprof
    flamencoprof   1 months ago

    It is like what happened to you today might be preserved as the only thing known about now when studied a million years hence.Best update your diary right away!

  • Michele Briere
    Michele Briere   1 months ago

    I don't understand how anyone could give these videos a thumbs down.

  • Chris Walsh
    Chris Walsh   1 months ago

    Watch Walking with Beasts, much more enjoyable than this 😉

  • Justin Porter
    Justin Porter   1 months ago

    Folks just wear any old thing on video now...

  • Patrick McLeod
    Patrick McLeod   1 months ago

    *It's been 40 years now, so it's likely that Jimmy Hoffa's "fossils" will be found there as well, similarly preserved!*

  • Danese
    Danese   1 months ago

    Leather Lake?How do I get one for my moat...?

  • Don Diddy
    Don Diddy   1 months ago

    I wanna go out like those turtles

  • Luigi Tolentino
    Luigi Tolentino   1 months ago

    Bride and Groom: Til death do us part... (smooch smooch)Ancient turtles: (sighs) ohh those novices....

  • jojolafrite90
    jojolafrite90   1 months ago

    Took me less than 1 second to hypothesize that it was due to volcanic activities causing CO2 emanations... Less than 1 second.

  • Chris D
    Chris D   1 months ago

    At least the turtles went out like chads.

  • Roland Priske
    Roland Priske   1 months ago

    I'm surprised Merkel has not tore it apart to replace the old lake with wind turbines.

  • Dean Robbins
    Dean Robbins   1 months ago

    Sooooo everything dies here. Save 10 minutes of your life.

  • Arianna Silva
    Arianna Silva   2 months ago

    Can we have a pbs eons channel that discusses non contemporary history instead of paleontology.

  • ichigomentos
    ichigomentos   2 months ago

    I kept hearing the sound they play when someone throws shade on RuPaul's Drag Race. LOL.

  • Bill Gene Soon
    Bill Gene Soon   2 months ago

    Pauses Vidya before 1 minute mark"I KNOW WHAT IT IS ITS ANCIENT QUICKSAND!!!!"

  • M. D ́avis
    M. D ́avis   3 months ago

    Idk but somewho this is typical for Germany. Like oh you got a beautiful place to excavate fossils? Well nope we just gonna dump our waste her.... 🤦‍♂️

  • Tom D
    Tom D   3 months ago

    "invisible clouds of toxic gas that asphyxiate anything in their path" or what happens when I eat Mexican food.

  • Small Man
    Small Man   3 months ago

    3:03 mountains come out of the sky and they stand there

  • RavenTek
    RavenTek   3 months ago

    I’ve heard of this lake before pretty interesting