Folk tales often include stories about people and animals mysteriously turned into stone by consuming some miraculous substance or by magic done by a dreadful witch. Of course we know that there’s no factual proof for such fictions. But new photos of Lake Natron, which is located in Northern Tanzania show real animals turned into stone effigies.
The strange phenomena was exposed by photographer Nick Brandt who visited Lake Natron; he was shocked by the frightening animal statues he saw aligned across its shoreline. He later found out that those were actual animals calcified by the lake’s alkaline water. Natron is a naturally occurring compound found in volcanic ash. Egyptians used it to preserve mummies. The lake’s alkalinity is similar to that of ammonia, with a constant pH level between 9 and 10.5 along with the temperature of the water that can reach 60 °C. No animal can withstand this acidic environment. When birds thrust into the waters of Lake Natron, the minerals start turning their flesh into stone and preserving them exactly as they were in their final moments. Only invertebrates, a few algae and some fish that live near the boundaries of the lake can survive this caustic environment.