Manganese Dendrite specimens from Solnhofen, Germany

Split pieces of Limestone with branching Manganese dendrites, from the lagerstätte at Solnhofen, Bavaria, Germany.


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Manganese Dendrite specimens from Solnhofen, Germany

Really rather interesting pieces, these are split pieces of Limestone from the lagerstätte at Solnhofen, Bavaria, Germany. A lagerstätte is an area with sedimentary deposits which exhibit phenomenal quality of preservation - sometimes including feathers, skin, and soft tissues.

In this case, they do not contain any fossils - or, at least, none I spotted.

They are, however, lovely specimens of branching Manganese dendrites - crystals which form in a branching tree-like structure. They were originally mistaken with fossils, for fairly obvious reasons, but are not biological in origin.

They look almost like branching ferns, or seaweed, or any of a thousand plant species I've seen but can't name. It is easy to see them almost as a landscape viewed in some abstract artform.


Dendrites occur in various natural and unnatural places and materials, including the historical 'Mocha ware' pottery. Some people use high voltage with wood to burn dendritic patterns into the surface as the electricity attempts to conduct along it - known as 'Lichtenburg Figures' (seriously, don't try that one at home). They can be seen by dripping ink into thin paint, too. The 'Solar Graffiti' website shows many examples that I couldn't fit into a simple product page - well worth a look.

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