A Lagerstätte (‘lahger shtettuh’) is a sedimentary deposit containing fossils with exceptional preservation – sometimes including preserved soft tissues. Where this type of fossilisation occurs rapidly in relatively acidic underwater sediments low in oxygen, the soft parts can be replaced by calcium phosphate, and with a scanning electron microscope this can reveal extraordinarily fine details of the creatures’ cellular structures. This offers advice to marine invertebrates who might not be aware of the fact.

Marine invertebrates, take heed:
Geologists are all agreed.
To be immortal, they advise,
You really need to fossilise,

And do so, with that end in view,
In sediments without O2;
That way, each individual cell
Can phosphatise itself as well.

If you’re unusual, weird or rare,
Choose your location with great care
For, as we’ve learned, it’s so much better
To fossilise in a Lagerstätte.

Image (of Belemnoteuthis antiquus from Christian Malford, UK): University of Bristol

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