Reanimating Life in the Lake of Stone Animals

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October 3, 2013 by Beatrice Marovich


Image from Discovery News, taken by Nick Brandt

Calcified animals from the Lake of Natron in Tanzania have been capturing media attention over the past several days. Discovery News wants to correct what seems to be an assumption that the lake somehow, instantly, turns the animals into stone. Like in some kind of fairy tale. From their story:

“The alkaline water in Lake Natron has a pH as high as 10.5 and is so caustic it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t adapted to it.” But “Despite some media reports, the animals didn’t simply turn to stone and die after coming into contact with the lake’s water. In fact, Lake Natron’s alkaline water support a thriving ecosystem of salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, flamingos and other wetland birds, tilapia and the algae on which large flocks of flamingos feed.”

It’s not the lake of death, in other words. At least… not for every animal. Perhaps part of what makes it seem so deeply eerie is the fact that artist Nick Brant (who took these haunting photos) placed the animal carcasses back into lifelike positions, after finding them. Reanimating these creatures makes it seem as if the lake had somehow seized them, like a wicked witch.

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