Famous for producing an astonishing diversity of rare and most intricately preserved fossils found anywhere in the world, the Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone Formation of southern Germany is legendary. In light of the quality of fossils that are found in the Solnhofen Formation, this is a supreme example of the extinct deep-water crustacean, Eryon arctiformis.
Fine quality Solnhofen fossils are now so rare that most come from old private collections as this specimen did. This species of lobster from the Jurassic, is rarely found with a well-preserved carapace of thick substance and fine detail as this specimen shows. The carapace here is well-mineralized and even the very tiny pustolose detail is intact! Because Solnhofen fossils have become so valuable and desired, even poor quality examples are enhanced now with carving and painting to "improve" their appearance. To the contrary, this specimen is 100% GENUINE AND NATURAL with NO RESTORATION, enhancement, fabrication or painting of any kind! Fossil is on a large rectangular slab of its original limestone. Slab features repair only. The detail is so remarkable that the fine granular features of the creature's carapace can be readily seen in the close-up images above. The preserved anatomy and features you see above are what put a fossil like this apart from the typical examples offered on the market. Interesting dendrites surround the claw tips as if emphasizing the impact of a punch to a villain's face in a Superman cartoon! Delicate tail is perfectly fanned out.
The majority of crustacean fossils on lithographic limestone from both Germany and Lebanon ARE artificially enhanced in some way. This often occurs by painting on fine detail of appendages and antennae at the least all the way to painting an entire animal where one did not exist. This is unfortunately the norm with these fossils and numerous websites and Ebay auctions feature these heavily restored fossils being sold as '100% genuine'. If you examine the images above and of the other crustacean fossils we offer in this section and compare the REAL detail of our specimens with what is shown in substantially lower-priced offers of some other dealers, you will easily see what we the difference provided they post high-resolution images. Real crustacean fossils that are natural will appear very detailed, even on a surface texture level. FAKE specimens will look like extravagant and detailed dark outlined pictures of what the animal would look like when alive. Simply put - they just look painted once you see the difference and compare to the above (or other genuine specimens). The low price of the fake is a FRACTION of what a real specimen. Quarry owners all over the world that produce these kinds of fossils are not stupid and all know the value of genuine, fine grade specimens and charge accordingly. The dramatic affect faking and enhancement has to the price of the fossil cannot be overstated.
Eryon arctiformis is an extinct member of the diverse group of arthropods called DECAPODA. Decapods comprise lobster, shrimp, prawns and crabs. The majority of Solnhofen crustaceans are decapods. Of all Solnhofen decapod fossils, shrimp such as Aeger, are the most common and abundant. Eryon arctiformis is a crab-like lobster creature classified as a lobster and is one of the world's oldest true lobsters. Lobster, shrimp and prawns all possess an elongated, segmented body with a flexible carapace covering the thorax and head. Other basic traits are the presence of multiple pairs of limbs and a fan-like tail. Because of the lightness and loose articulation of a decapod's carapace, intact preservation of the entire creature is quite rare and the abundance of the animal in the fossil layers is most often represented by partial or poorly preserved specimens.
WARNING: We have noticed an increasing occurrence of heavily restored and false painted examples in the marketplace of various types of German lithographic limestone fossils. Similar to the horrid abundance of "fossils" from Lebanon where the entire animal is completely painted including fine outlines of the legs, body and antennae, crustacean fossils from Germany are also painted with the utmost skill and detail. In many cases, the rock is carved prior to painting to further give the appearance of a "fossil". This is done with paintbrushes that are just a few bristles thick and the skilled craftspeople that make these "fossils" are able to recreate the finest detail that continues to fool most buyers of shrimp and other crustacean fossils. If the price seems too good to be true, then that should be the first and foremost 'red flag'.
The highest grade 100% GENUINE fossils are rare and have high worldwide intrinsic value. There are no 'bargains'. While fossils from this region can exhibit the finest possible preservation of any site in the world, they are extremely rare and occur with less frequency compared to most other fossil-bearing formations. The GENUINE presence of minute, finely detailed body parts DRAMATICALLY affects the price!