9.1" Eocene Fossil Fish (Cyclurus) - Messel Shale, Germany
It was prepared using a classic resin transfer process. Since the oil shales the fossils at Messel are filled with water they would disintegrate if allowed to dry out. They have been described of having the consistency of soggy cardboard. The fossils are coated in a layer of resin to create an artificial matrix and then all of the shale is removed from the other side. This leaves the fossil embedded in a plate of hardened resin.
The Messel Shales represent a 47 million year old lake bed that was surrounded by a lush sub-tropical forest that harbored and incredible diversity of life. The slow, anoxic deposition of mud on the lake bottom created an environment for incredible fossil preservation.
These shales started to be commercially mined to produce oil in the 1850's until the 1970's when commercial mining ceased for economic reasons. For a several year period in the 1970's the site was open to fossil collecting. The site was purchased by the state in 1991 and declared a UNESCO site in 1995 due to the incredible fossil preservation. Since that time it has been transformed into a tourist destination and collection is strictly limited to academic collecting.