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    Description

    FOSSIL BIRD
    Messelornis cristata
    Eocene, Messel Formation
    Messel, Landkreis Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hesse, Germany

    For some unknown reason, around 60 percent of the bird fossils recovered from Messel are of one particular genus and species: Messelornis cristata, a member of the Sunbittern family. It is possible that poisonous volcanic gasses escaping from the waters of the Messel Lake, periodically gassed anything standing on the shoreline; which is where Sunbitterns like to hunt. In fact, this bird seems to be eyeing something, partially trapped under his one foot. Trapped in turn, in a typical Messel "matrix" of epoxy resin; his hunting days are long over. After succumbing to whatever killed him, the remains drifted down through the dark waters, to finally settle into the oil rich muds on the bottom of the caldera lake, where the body was covered with more of the same muds. This sometimes erratic, process of burial has left our feathered friend with a "folded up" sort of anatomy similar to an umbrella before deployment and if you think about it; this kind of burial essentially reduces a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional one - some parts get "stacked" on top of others. "Folded up," he measures 6.25 x 3 inches (15.88 x 7.62 cm).

    As mentioned before, Messel fossils require a totally different preparation technique in order to maintain their fabulous detail and preservation. The original waterlogged matrix must be removed and the fossil stabilized without damaging it, which is why all of the specimens are embedded in an artificial "matrix" of epoxy resin. It was the amateurs working the Messel pit who pioneered this innovative "transfer process" of fossil preservation. Paleontology owes them a great debt for their contributions to this evolving science.
    Overall Measurements: 10.75 x 8.37 inches (27.31 x 21.27 cm)


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    28th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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