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About four hundred million years ago earthquake activity and possibly major storms caused sudden movements of large quantities of muddy sediment along the seafloor. Animal communities in the path of these sediment-laden flows were instantly engulfed, the inhabitants "frozen" in the last moment of their lives. Amazingly, many of the creatures lost in this ancient catastrophe were almost perfectly preserved through the eons, fossilized in a thick series of muds now known as the Hunsruck Slate west of the Rhine Valley in western Germany. Excavations there have yielded the most diverse and surpassingly beautiful collection of marine fossils of the Devonian period ever discovered. This book pays tribute to the exquisite fossils of the Hunsruck Slate. Large full-color photographic plates display fossil sponges, brachiopods, clams, starfish, sea lilies, trilobites, worms, sea spiders, sea stars, crustaceans, corals, and many other species. An accessible commentary recounts the discovery of the fossils and explains how the slate was formed, how the animals are preserved, the significance of the fossils, and the controversies that surround them. A special presentation in every way, this book makes an exceptional contribution to the fascinating history of life on Earth.
Gabriele Kühl is a paleontologist at the Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, Germany. Christoph Bartels is head of the Mining History Research Department of the German Mining Museum, Bochum, Germany. Derek Briggs is G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, and director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Jes Rust is professor at the Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, Germany.