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News & Insight

A Lake That Turns Animals Into Stone

By Hanssie on October 2nd 2013


Like a scene from a horror movie, the quiet, calm Lake Natron, in Northern Tanzania confuses birds with it’s deceptively glass-like surface  and causes them to crash into the lake. Unable to get out of the thick water, the animals die and are calcified.

Temperatures in the lake can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the PH levels reach up to 10.5 (an extremely basic alkalinity similar to ammonia). “The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.”

In his new book, Across The Ravaged Land, photographer Nick Brandt captures the eerie stone animals and “brought them back to life” by posing them in the haunting images you see below.

Calcified Fish Eagle


Calcified Swallow


Calcified Bat II

(Via @Gizmodo)

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Nick

    Is the last one upside down…?

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  2. Ari

    What is the last one? A bat?!?

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  3. Ihab Mokayed

    This is so good that I was spacing out while looking at the incredible details.

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  4. Andrew Trembley

    Unfortunately (or more likely, fortunately) the “explanation” is pretty much fictional. Lake Natron is an alkali lake, and it does have this effect on animal corpses, but it’s also one of the last breeding grounds of the Lesser Flamingo. It doesn’t kill everything that touches it. It’s teeming with life.

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  5. Chris S

    I’m not one to comment usually, but this is probably one of the most amazing sets I’ve seen. This is outstanding and creative on another level. Nice work.

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  6. David Liang

    That is so creepy and yet the aesthetics are stunning.

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