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The Posidonia Shale is an Early Jurassic geological formation of south-western Germany, including exceptionally well-preserved complete skeletons of fossil marine fish and reptiles.[1] The Posidonienschiefer, as German paleontologists call it, takes its name from the ubiquitous fossils of Posidonia bronni that characterize its fauna. The formation comprises finely laminated layers of oil shales formed of fine-grained sediments intercalated with bituminous limestones and crops out in a number of locations in southwestern Germany, although most remains are from near the village of Holzmaden.[1] The European oil shales deposited on a sea floor during the Early Toarcian in the ancient Tethys Ocean are described as being deposited in an anoxic, or oxygen-depleted, deep water environment, although the details of the depositional environment are the subject of debate by researchers of the formation.[1]

Posidonia Shale
Stratigraphic range: Toarcian
Posidonia Shale at Hesselberg
TypeGeological formation
Unit ofAltena Group (Netherlands)
UnderliesJurensismergel Formation (Germany)
Werkendam Formation (Netherlands)
OverliesAmaltheenton Formation (Germany)
Aalburg Formation (Netherlands)
RegionNorthwest German Basin, Southwest German Basin
Country Germany
Type section
Named forPosidonia bronni
Lithostratigraphie süddeutscher Jura.svg
Lithostratigraphy of the Posidonia Shale in Germany

In addition to their Posidonia bronni, the shales contain some spectacularly detailed fossils of other Jurassic sea creatures—ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, spiral-shelled ammonites and crinoids, or sea-lilies.[2]




Ichthyosaurs of the Posidonia Shale
Taxa Presence Notes Images



Plesiosaurs of the Posidonia Shale
Taxa Presence Notes Images


  1. Meyerasaurus victor[3]
  1. Found near the town of Holzmaden (Baden-Württemberg), Germany.[3]


Pterosaurs of the Posidonia Shale
Taxa Presence Notes Images


  1. C. liasicus[4]
  2. C. zitteli[4]
  1. Found near the town of Holzmaden (Baden-Württemberg), Germany.[4]
  2. Found near the town of Holzmaden (Baden-Württemberg), Germany.[4]


  1. D. banthensis[4]
  1. Found near Banz Abbey in Bavaria, as well as Holzmaden (Baden-Württemberg),[4]


Dinosaurs of the Posidonia Shale
Taxa Presence Notes Images



  1. ^ a b c Bottjer, Etter, Hagadorn, Tang, editors (2001). Exceptional Fossil Preservation. Columbia University Press.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ David Quammen, The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder 2000:41.
  3. ^ a b c Adam S. Smith, Peggy Vincent (2010). "A new genus of pliosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Lower Jurassic of Holzmaden, Germany". Palaeontology. 53 (5): 1049–1063. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.00975.x.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Wellnhofer, Peter (1991). "Summary of Lower Jurassic Pterosaurs." The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs. London, UK: Salamander Books Limited. p. 79. ISBN 0-86101-566-5.

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