Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

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In the book, ‘Across the Ravaged Land’ photographer, Nick Brandt documents a stunning yet eerily dark vision of disappearing wildlife in eastern Africa. You won’t believe what turned these animals into calcified rock.

Scary Calcified Stone Bats

Photographer, Nick Brandt traveled to Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania to capture a phenomenon of calcified creatures that are frozen in time after coming into contact with the deadly lake.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

Once Alive & Now They’re Statues

Lake Natron is a saline lake near the Kenya border. Tanzania and Kenya are known for spectacular wildlife but the lake is barren due to harsh conditions. Lake temperatures reach 140 ° F, and alkalinity ranges between pH9 – 10.5 (seawater is a pH between 7 – 9).

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

The Process Of Embalmment

Brandt believes birds become easy victims to the lake’s reflective surface. It confuses them as ‘they crash into the water’ becoming covered in high concentrations of extremely high soda and salt minerals. It’s this condition to which they calcify and become perfectly preserved.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

A Real Life Mythological Place

Nick Brandt explains Lake Natron is like the Greek mythological monster, Medusa. If anyone or creature gazed upon her human female face and snaky hair, they would turn to stone.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

Nick Brandt’s Photography Book

View Brandt’s latest photo book ‘Across the Ravaged Land’ to see more. His images are the mummified creatures found washed-up on the shores of Lake Natron. He photographed them “placed in ‘living’ positions, bringing them back to ‘life’, as it were”.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

Who Dares To Touch It, Will Turn To Stone

The lake’s waters are amazingly peaceful and scenic from above, in fact it’s been voted as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. You’d never know by just looking that it’s deadly!

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

A Few Facts: Lake Natron

The water is so salty and full of salt-loving microorganisms that it’s poisonous and avoided by many animals, like the hyena. Water depths reach only 10 feet, in it the white sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate comes from volcanic ash, while the alkali salt crust on the surface creates brilliant reds and pinks.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

As A Tourist Destination

Evidently you can walk out across the baked mud to the shores of the great soda lake itself! Actually some people camp in the Lake Natron area while attending sightseeing activities and safaris located near by.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

Still Alive: Home Of The Flamingos

It’s an apocalyptic place and surprisingly this is why flamingos make it their home as there are no predators. The salted lake still remains a danger and these birds are sometimes found mummified, but they always return to breed.

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?

A Photographer’s Work

‘Across the Ravaged Land’, is Brant’s last and final book of a trilogy series documenting the disappearing animals of eastern Africa. It’s said that this volume offers the ‘darker vision of this world’, but all the while it’s stunning!

Why Have These Animals Been Turned To Stone?


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