Facts and Data
Unesco World heritage since: 1995
Size of heritage: 42 ha
- Buffer zone: 23 ha
Messel Pit is the richest site in the world for understanding the living environment of the Eocene, between 57 million and 36 million years ago. In particular, it provides unique information about the early stages of the evolution of mammals and includes exceptionally well-preserved mammal fossils, ranging from fully articulated skeletons to the contents of stomachs of animals of this period.
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IntroductionThe Messel Pit Fossil Site, located in the District of Darmstadt-Dieburg, State of Hesse (Hessen), Germany, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its exceptional fossil preservation. This site provides invaluable insights into the Eocene epoch, approximately 47 million years ago, and offers a unique window into the evolution of life on Earth.
HistoryThe history of the Messel Pit Fossil Site dates back to the 19th century when it was first discovered during mining operations for oil shale. The site quickly gained recognition for its remarkable fossil finds, attracting the attention of scientists and paleontologists worldwide. In 1995, the Messel Pit Fossil Site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, acknowledging its scientific significance and the need for its preservation.
Fossil PreservationThe Messel Pit Fossil Site is renowned for its exceptional fossil preservation, which is attributed to the unique geological conditions of the area. The site was once a volcanic maar lake, surrounded by lush tropical forests. Over time, the lake became anoxic, lacking oxygen, creating an ideal environment for the preservation of organic material. As a result, the fossils found at Messel Pit are remarkably well-preserved, including complete skeletons, soft tissues, and even stomach contents of ancient organisms.
Fossil DiversityThe fossil diversity at Messel Pit is astounding, providing a comprehensive record of the Eocene ecosystem. Fossils of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, insects, and plants have been unearthed, offering insights into the evolution and ecology of these ancient organisms. Notably, the site has yielded numerous early mammal fossils, including primates, which have contributed significantly to our understanding of primate evolution.
Current StateToday, the Messel Pit Fossil Site is a protected area, managed by the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. The site is carefully monitored and regulated to ensure the preservation of its scientific value. Access to the fossil site is restricted, with guided tours available to visitors, allowing them to explore the area under expert guidance. The Messel Pit Fossil Site continues to be an active site of scientific research, with ongoing excavations and discoveries. The fossils unearthed at the site are meticulously studied, providing valuable insights into the ancient world. Researchers have made significant contributions to our understanding of paleoecology, paleoclimatology, and the evolution of various taxa through their work at Messel Pit. In addition to its scientific importance, the Messel Pit Fossil Site also serves as an educational resource. The site offers educational programs and workshops, allowing students and visitors to learn about paleontology and the significance of fossil preservation. The Messel Pit Fossil Site is a testament to the importance of preserving our natural heritage and promoting scientific knowledge. In conclusion, the Messel Pit Fossil Site in Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage site of immense scientific significance. Its exceptional fossil preservation and diverse fossil record provide invaluable insights into the Eocene epoch and the evolution of life on Earth. With its protected status and ongoing research, the Messel Pit Fossil Site continues to contribute to our understanding of the ancient world and serves as an educational resource for future generations.
Hotels and places to stay
Videos from the area
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Medium airport - 6 mi (10 km) Frankfurt am Main International Airport
Large airport - 12 mi (20 km) Hanau Army Air Field
Small airport - 20 mi (32 km) Wiesbaden Army Airfield
Medium airport - 21 mi (35 km) Worms Airport
Small airport - 27 mi (45 km) Karlsruhe Baden-Baden Airport
Large airport - 84 mi (136 km) Stuttgart Airport
Large airport - 87 mi (141 km)
Bigger and popular cities in the wider vicinity are these:
- Frankfurt am Main
- Hanau am Main
These are some smaller cities that might be interesting. They are all rather close.
- Auf der Bulau