Discoveries of occurrences of exceptionally preserved fossils.

Evolutionary biologists have long been concerned by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Fortunately, from time to time, discoveries of occurrences of exceptionally preserved fossils, known as conservation Lagerstätten (from the German word Lagerstätte – essentially meaning motherlode) shed much new light on the past diversity of life. A recently published book, Terrestrial Conservation Lagerstätten: Windows into the Evolution of Life on Land edited by Nick Fraser (National Museums Scotland) and Hans-Dieter Sues (Smithsonian Institution), brings together for the first time reviews of the world’s most significant lagerstätten documenting terrestrial animals and plants.

Written by international experts, the nine separate localities include two from Scotland, the famous Rhynie chert documenting the earliest-known ecosystem of terrestrial animals and plants, and East Kirkton Quarry in West Lothian. East Kirkton is famous for its diversity of amphibians as well as “Lizzie” (Westlothiana lizziae), long regarded as one of the oldest reptiles in the world.

Terrestrial Conservation Lagerstatten: Windows into the Evolution of Life on Land

Explore more

Tyrannosaurus rex

Meet the 12 metre-long, spectacular life-sized skeleton cast of a T.rex, one of the star attractions at the National Museum of Scotland.

Closing Romer's Gap: The story so far

If the first four-legged animals had never emerged from water onto land, our world today would not exist. Yet how did this great step happen? The mystery is finally being solved – and fossils discovered in Scotland lie at the heart of the story.

Westlothiana lizziae

This very important fossil, affectionately known as ‘Lizzie', was discovered in Scotland in the 1980s and could be the earliest known reptile.
Back to top

Discover the story of Scottish pop music as we take you on a musical journey from the 1950s to the present day in our new exhibition.

Members go free!

Book now