Age: early Devonian
The Rhynie Chert is a konservat lagerstätte, a site of exceptional fossil preservation. The reasons for this level of preservation will be explained in the section on taphonomy. Fossil lagerstätten are fairly rare throughout the world. Other examples include the Burgess Shale (where many Cambrian arthropods are preserved), and the Baltic amber (where insects are preserved).
The Rhynie Chert is a location where early land plants and some animals have been preserved in chert, sometimes in such exceptional detail that it allows the description of their internal anatomy.
|Map of North East Scotland. Dot shows location of Rhynie Chert|
The village of Rhynie is located in North East Scotland, some 50 km NW of Aberdeen. It stretches for over 1.5 km along a major fault line, but the Rhynie Chert rarely outcrops at the present day land surface. The exact size and location of the lagerstätte is therefore unknown, and hence we owe our current knowledge of the Rhynie Chert to fossiliferous blocks found in the surrounding sediment, and by the drilling and coring in the region.