Pompeii-like eruption fossilized dinosaurs in death poses

by Mary Caperton Morton
Friday, July 18, 2014

The Yixian and Jiufotang formations are famous for preserving fine details such as hair, skin and feathers from a diverse array of animals, including land dwellers, birds and freshwater fish. Careful analysis of the exquisitely preserved fossils and surrounding sediments suggests that the diverse assemblage of animals were killed by a series of sudden, lethal ash flows that swept through the area, charring the carcasses and leaving them piled in bone beds.

The scenario helps explain the exceptional preservation of the fossils as well as the wide array of animals, many of which are not usually found together. “The eruptions must have been numerous and caused multiple mass mortalities of both terrestrial and aquatic animals,” wrote lead author Baoyu Jiang of Nanjing University in China and co-authors.

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