This article was originally published on October 19, 2013.
These unusual photos, just in time for Halloween, showcase five creatures: a stony swallow, a mummified bat, an eagle, a flamingo, and a dove, all calcified along northern Tanzania‘s Lake Natron (map), which contains so much soda and salt that it would “strip the ink of my Kodak film boxes in a few seconds,” according to photographer Nick Brandt.
Lake Natron is located near a volcano, which spews alkali-rich natrocarbonatites that end up in Lake Natron via rainwater runoff. Brandt had found the creatures upon the shore, perfectly preserved by the lake. Apparently, the creatures are so calcified that if you pick them up, their bodies will remain in the same position they were found in. Though not evident in these black-and-white photographs, Lake Natron has has a distinctly red color, which comes from the lake’s cyanobacteria. Check out the photos.
[Photos and additional information courtesy of National Geographic]