My fossil-hunting- and museum-trip to Holzmaden | The Octopus News Magazine Online
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My fossil-hunting- and museum-trip to Holzmaden

Sordes

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#1
Holzmaden, located at the south-west of Germany, is one of the most famous fossillagerstätten of the world, and especially famous for its extremely well-preserved ichthyosaurs with soft-tissue-impressions and embryos. I was there only for one single time during my elementary school time I think, since this time I was never there again, despite the fact that it is not that far away from where I live, only around an hour to drive. This summer I decided finally to visit the famous museums and stone pits of Holzmaden. As there were many highly interesting fossils and fantastic models at the museum, I decided to show you some photos. You already get a good presentiment at the entry of the Urwelt (prehistory) museum Hauff:
 

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Sordes

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#2
I have to admit that I didn´t made that much photos of cephalopod fossils, because I was mainly impressed by the fantastic fossils of marine reptiles and fish, as well as some of the very best reconstructions of prehistoric animals I have ever seen. Here you can see a collection of fossil cephalopods, a model of a belemnite-hinting ichthyosaur, a wonderful model of Ophtalmosaurus:
 

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Sordes

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Of course you wanna see especially cephalopods, and here are some absolutely fantastic life-reconstructions of belemnites. It was surely an incredible work to sculpt, cast and paint them, especially with all the tiny hooks (more photos will come later):
 

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OB

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#5
Wow... Wow... Wow...

That Ophtalmosaurus alone is worth the trip! But the model building as a whole, is really outstanding. Not that far away from where I reside, so a trip is most definitely in order!
 

Sordes

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There are so many other photos I made, but it require by far too much time, so I can show you only a selection of photos. Besides the Hauff museum, there is also another museum, just some metres away on the other side of the street, the museum of the stone pit Fischer. It is not a very big museum, but you can still find there a lot of true fossil treasures. For example a 1,65 m skull of the large ichthyosaur Leptopterygius. The very special feature of this skull is the ammonite which was emedded on the skull. There is also another Leptopterygius skull, one of the largest ever found ichthyosaur skulls. There is even a partial reconstruction of this huge animal. Note the huge eyes which rival those of the largest squids.
 

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Sordes

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#10
The giant ichthyosaurs had surely a similar impact on cephalopods like sperm whales and beaked whales today. If you look at the eyes, you have to keep in mind that there were even larger ichthyosaurs, twice the length of this one. There is also a wall with a huge painting which shows some of the animals whose fossils were found at Holzmaden.
 

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Sordes

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Here you can see a an impression of the little stone pit of the Fischer museum. It is only a comparably small stone pit and since many years no longer in commercial use, so it is very hard to find at least some bigger pieces of slate, which are not already crushed to pieces. This doesn´t mean that you don´t find there fossils, I actually found there some nice pieces, but the chances to find something bigger or unusual aren´t that big. However, the museum houses some very nice fossils, including a marine crocodile and fantastic belemnites, which were found in this stone pit by amateur collectors.
 

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Sordes

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#12
Besides this comparably small stone pit, there is also another one of the Kromer Company in the next village, which is much bigger and still in use, so there is all the time new stone material in which you can search. It is absolutely impossible to find no fossils there, they are really next to everywhere. But of course you still have to search a lot and have a good portion of luck to find really good fossils. The ammonites there are often of a wonderful golden colour, and you can find very much of them, but sadly it´s not that easy to find complete specimens. I also found some partial belemnite rostrums, shells, fossil wood and perhaps also several isolated scales of fish. I have still no photos of my fossils, but here you can see what you can find when you have really luck. Wonderful huge golden ammonites, like this ones which were excavated with a backhoe by one of the workers there, who selected them for further treatment. I found some similar pieces, but they were only partial.
 

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OB

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#13
You are correct with regards to Ichthyosaurs likely having the largest eyes ever in any creature, extinct or extant. I am not sure how Shonisaurus lines up against the larger Ophthalmosaurus'es, but it is safe to suggest eye sizes well in the 25 to 30 cm range. Temnodontosaurus has a measured maximum of 265 mm, making it's eyes 2 cm's wider than that of the record Mesonychoteuthis of te Papa fame.
 

Terri

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#14
Awesome!!:bugout:The workmanship on the reconstuctions is incredible, and I particularly like the shark fossil showing the stomach content!:cool:
 

DWhatley

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#15
The reproductions are so lifelike that they are more believable then most I have seen pictures of in dioramas.
 

Sordes

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#17
Yes, the museum is really great, yet I have to say that it´s a comparably small museum. But it´s really worth to visit, especially when you also search for fossils at the nearby stone pits, and there is also a really nice countryside. As I sculpt models and reconstructions of extinct animals (including cephalopods) myself, this models were especially interesting. In the case of the belemnites the work of the artist which made them is really amazing, and I would really love to see the different steps in which they were produced.
 

Architeuthoceras

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#18
Yes they are both very nice museums. It seems all the little museums in Europe are nice, the two museums I went to last month in France were just as nice and like the two you went to are devoted to nearby rock pits or quarries and to the cephalopods (and some of the other marine life:sly:) found in them.
 

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