Exceptionally preserved fossils

Upper Carboniferous sites yielding soft-bodied animals in the North West of England, UK

Map of England
Map of England, location of the West Lancashire coalfield is indicated by the large red dot.
The recent development of privately run open cast coal mining in the West Lancashire coalfield allowed the investigation of the area as a potential source of exceptionally preserved fossils, including those not normally seen in the fossil record (e.g. unmineralised arthropods). This style of preservation, hosted in diagenetically early siderite concretions was noted as early as the 1850's, but the best known and example of the phenomena is the Mazon Creek Lagerstatte of Illinois, USA. Learn more about the flora and fauna of Mazon Creek at the Illinois State Museum.

Historically, only a few Coal Measures sites in the vicinity of Manchester have yielded soft-bodied or unmineralised fossil organisms. The most famous of these was the Sparth Bottoms brick clay pit situated near Rochdale, to the north-east of Manchester. When the brick pit closed, the site was filled and the opportunity to collect from the site lost forever. Sparth Bottoms was collected intensively during the early 1900's by a number of amateur palaeontologists (Anderson 1999).

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(Last modified 27 Sept 00 LIA)

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