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47 million years ago in the Eocene when the Messel deposits formed, the area was 10° further south than it is now.
Inset map shows the location of the town and fossil locality of Messel near Frankfurt in the southwestern part of Germany.
Larger map shows the locations of Messel primates 1–7 (Table 1) within the Messel oil shale excavation.
Paleontologists study fossils and attempt to use them to reconstruct the history of the Earth and the life on it.
Some paleontologists study the ecology of the past; others work on the evolution of fossil taxa.
Oil shale, formed by the slow anoxic deposition of mud and dead vegetation on the lake bed, is the primary rock at the site.
Its sediments extend 13 m (43 ft) downward and lie atop an older sandstone foundation.
) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel, (Landkreis Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hesse) about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Because of its abundance of fossils, it has significant geological and scientific importance.
After almost becoming a landfill, strong local resistance eventually stopped these plans and the Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site on 9 December 1995.
Combined with a relatively low rate of deposition, 0.1 mm (0.0039 in) per year, this provided a prime environment for the preservation of fauna and flora.