Lagerstätte of the Week: Luoping Biota

: Luoping Biota
Where: Southern China
When: Middle Triassic
What: The Luoping Biota is a Middle Triassic, marine site that is an example of life bouncing back from the Permian Extinction. This fully-realized ecosystem has microbes, molluscs, arthropods, fish, and marine reptiles, interconnected in a complex food web. Ichthyosaurs represent one of the apex predators which marks the establishment of reptiles being the dominant marine predators of the Mesozoic. As of 2011, roughly 20,000 fossils have been found with over 90% of them being arthropods, predominantly of crustaceans. However, other non-marine fossils have been found like relatively complete conifer branches suggesting the coasts were covered in a coniferous forest with stems traveling a short distance before they eventually sank into the ocean.

Luoping Ichthyosaur. Image from Hu et al. 2011

Hu, Shi-xue, et al. “The Luoping biota: exceptional preservation, and new evidence on the Triassic recovery from end-Permian mass extinction.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278.1716 (2011): 2274-2282.


Fossil Spotlight: Pyritized Trilobite

Who: Triarthrus eatoni
Lagerstätte: Beecher’s Trilobite Bed (Ordovician, New York)
What: These trilobites are preserved through pyritization which gives them a golden hue. An underwater avalanche, called a turbidity current, carried the trilobites into deep waters and buried them. The shock of the cold water killed them. Anaerobic bacteria within the soil reacted to the influx of sudden food and began to feed on them. As they feed, they released hydrogen sulfide which reacted with the soil’s iron and produced pyrite. The pyrite replaced the organic tissues preserving the legs, antennae, and internal organs. This makes these trilobites highly valuable in understanding what they looked like as most trilobite fossils do not have these soft body parts.

Briggs, Derek EG, Simon H. Bottrell, and Robert Raiswell. “Pyritization of soft-bodied fossils: Beecher’s trilobite bed, Upper Ordovician, New York State.” Geology 19.12 (1991): 1221-1224

If you would like to learn more check out my episode on Beecher’s Trilobite Bed:


What’s the Fossil Bonanza logo?

The podcast’s logo was inspired by a fossil of the marine crocodile Steneosaurus bollensis.  It lived during the Jurassic Period in Europe and swam with other marine reptiles like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs.  The sea’s anoxic bottom minimized decomposing and shunned scavengers leaving it to be perfectly intact.  As such, mud would slowly bury the animal where it eventually fossilized and then uncovered millions of years later.  This is the basis for the Posidonia Shale Lagerstätte which has fossils of birthing ichthyosaurs and tremendously large crinoids.


Logo designed by


Welcome to Fossil Bonanza

Hello everyone, my name is Andy and welcome to Fossil Bonanza! This is a website dedicated to unusual fossil sites found across the world called Fossil-Lagerstätten. If you would like to get a run down on what a Lagerstätte is I’ve already provided a description here.

The short of it is that I have loved fossils ever since I was a kid and I began to appreciate Lagerstätten when I went to college. Afterward I graduated, I even worked at one as a park ranger, Fossil Butte National Monument, which was very cool. There are many notable fossil sites around the world that are considered a Lagerstätte like La Brea Tar Pits, Burgess Shale, Dinosaur National Monument, and Messel Pit. I wanted to express my appreciation of these sites as well as highlight overlooked ones that are still incredibly awesome.

I’m in the process of producing season 1 of a podcast dedicated to Lagerstätten. I have so far written seven of the first eight episodes and I’m planning on recording the videos after I finish writing the eighth one. In the meanwhile, please come back and check this website or twitter for updates and I hope you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for stopping by!