• 10.02.13

See Real Animals Turned Into Eerie Statues By A Chemically Charged Lake

Photographer Nick Brandt turns animals petrified by an African lake into beautiful, horrifying, sad gargoyles.

According to classical mythology, whenever anyone gazed upon the snake-enveloped face of Medusa, he or she would turn into stone. Apparently, a modern day equivalent to this myth exists in Tanzania, where a lake is calcifying any animal that’s spent too much time in its inhospitable waters.


Photographer Nick Brandt has been capturing images of wildlife petrified as a direct result of the unique chemical combination of the lake. According to New Scientist, Lake Natron’s namesake sodium carbonate compound and constant pH balance of 9 to 10.5 is what calcifies and then preserves the animals in alkaline amber. All manner of birds and bats who unsuspectingly choose that lake as a resting place have ended up staying there eternally.

Brandt found the creatures and arranged them into the poses you see here and included the images in his latest photography book Across the Ravaged Land, which explores the world’s natural beauty, gradually disappearing at the hands of man. Have a look at some more of the statue-like victims of the Tanzanian lake in the slides above.

HT to New Scientist.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.