Messel Research


MESSEL – An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem

Messel – An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem is an exquisitely illustrated book by 28 internationally renowned specialists who present a synopsis of the current state of understanding of the climate and structure of the Eocene Messel ecosystem.

The information is derived from studying the rocks, animal and plant fossils of the Messel pit. The Messel Pit represents an ancient maar lake situated in the archipelago that Europe was in the Eocene, close to present-day Frankfurt, Germany.

The exceptional state of preservation of Messel fossils has enabled researchers, in many cases for the first time, to identify minute functional details of the plants and animals of the Messel ecosystem about 48 Million years ago: plants, insects, birds, mammals (horses!), reptiles, amphibians and fishes.

Introductory chapters treat Messel, its formation as a maar lake, the conditions of burial and preservation of the fossils, and history of work since discovery of the first fossil there in 1876.

The Messel flora and individual fossils groups are discussed in detail in seven following chapters, discussing both paleontological and evolutionary details obtained from the Messel fossils and by comparison with other fossil locations.

A final chapter summarizes all previous research and presents a synopsis of ecosystem conditions (climatic, environmental, biota, producers and consumers, occupation of ecospaces, niches) of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at Messel, derived from studies of the Messel samples.

This hitherto most comprehensive treatment of the fossil Messel ecosystem will make this book the standard reference work on Messel to scientists, while the lush illustrations of flora and fauna will captivate everyone from fossil enthusiasts to interested laypersons.

This title is also available in a German language version.

Senckenberg Book 79

Stephan F. K. Schaal, Krister T. Smith, Jörg Habersetzer (Hrsg.)
Messel – Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem

2018, 355 pages, 21 x 27,2 cm, bound
ISBN 978-3-510-61410-3
44.90 Euro

Sample pages here.

List of publications on Messel of Forschungsinstituts Senckenberg scientists and honorary employees as well as students, doctoral candidates and postdocs

Senckenberg Messel-Publikationen (545 quotations) as PDF-file (99 KB)

Update: 1st May 2006

A complete list of publications on Messel Pit Fossil Site with 1,436 quotations is published on CD-ROM in  CFS 252, SCHAAL, S. et al. (2004): “Literaturübersicht und Schriftenverzeichnis zur wissenschaftlichen Erforschung der Fossilienfundstätte Messel”.  

Contact address for scientific journals: ;Search: “cfs 252”


Anika Vogel
Technische Assistentin