Museum Frankfurt

World natural heritage "Grube Messel"
The world famous fossil site "Grube Messel" (Messerl Pit) is the first UNESCO world natural heritage in Germany. The exhibition deals with the origin of the former freshwater lake and the history of the Messel Pit. Furthermore it provides an insight into modern methods of investigation and preparation. The extraordinary well preserved fossils are spectacular and can give you an idea of life about 50 million years ago. Extinct bowfins, frogs, turtles and many other animals colonized this stretch of water. Marsupials and prosimians climbed the treetops of the dense forest around, while bats and birds hurtled. 

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Alligator Diplocynodon darwini Alligators - climate indicators
The findings also tell us about the climate then. Fossils of crocodiles and alligators indicate that the average temperature at that time was about ten degrees higher than today, as cold-blooded animals of this size could only live under tropical conditions. Indeed, the Messel lake was surrounded by a tropical rainforest.
Blattkäfer mit erhaltenen Strukturfarben Skin Silhouettes - exceptional preservations
The Messel Pit fossils are about 50 million years old and are preserved in an exceptionally complete condition. Some fossils even show stomach contents as well as the body silhouette. A couple of insect-fossils even reveal colours!
Urpferdchen Propalaeotherium parvulum Early Horse - in the rainforest of Hessia
More than 70 of these little horses have already been found. These early horses were just as big as fox terriers. Contrary to modern horses the front limb had four toes and the hind limbs three. They fed on leafs and racemes. Reconstructions of these animals are displayed next to the original fossils.


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Offer for children: educational material (in German) about the Messel Pit.

Guided tours focused on our exhibition about the Messel Pit can be booked at Guided Tours

For guided tours directly in Messel you may book at :