Incredibly Rare Eocene Turtle (Alleochelys) - Messel Shales

This is an absolutely incredible, and nearly impossible to acquire specimen of Alleochelys crassesculptata a swift-swimming turtle from the Messel Pit in Germany. The specimen is in exceptional conditions, with amazing detail, skull present and paddle-like feet visible. It has been in a private collection since being collected in 1974. The Messel Pit has been off limits to collecting since 1976 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 so the only material that is or will be available is coming from old collections. Don't pass this one up, you may never see another example even close to this nice again.

Since the oil shales the fossils at Messel are filled with water they would disintegrate if allowed to dry out. The rock as been compared to having the consistency of soggy cardboard. To collected the fossils, resin of poured over the top of them in the field to create a stable, artificial matrix. Then the fossil is removed and prepared from the other side, leaving the fossil embedded in a plate of hardened resin.

Alleochelys is thought to represent the transition from true turtles to the soft shells.

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.
Alleochelys crassesculptata
Messel Pit, Messel, Germany
Messel Oil Shale
Turtle 6.8"
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