Item of the Month: December 2017

Sea algae fossil. Kalana lagerstätte. TUG

This sea algae fossil is one of the many that have been found at the Kalana plant lagerstätte (site abounding in well-preserved fossils) which nests in 440-million-year-old limestone. In the Silurian when the territory that is now Estonia was covered by warm and shallow seas, algae (side by side with marine fauna) were as common and widespread as they are today. Unfortunately, fossilization strongly favours algae whose cells contain lime.

This is also precisely why Kalana has become so important – it has yielded a wealth of well-preserved fossils of non-calcified algae. This type of fossilization could only have happened if the remains of organisms were quickly covered in deposits that acted as a shield against decomposition processes facilitated by oxygen and bacteria. Such sites of algal fossils are extremely rare on the global scale, the only other currently known site being in North America. Still the Estonian site has so far produced the greatest number of different algal species.

Kalana, where over ten species of green and red algae have been discovered, has remained at the focus of scientific interest since 2006, when the museum's geologist Tõnu Pani found the first fossils at the site.

The project is curated by Inge Kukk
The project is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia