Photographer Nick Brandt in his new book “Across the Ravaged Land” shows Lake Natron, a lake in North Tanzania, Africa, turning some animals into stone.

The lake doesn’t instantly turn all animals into stone, but some animals that are not immune to the high alkalinity of the lake end up calcifying and washing up on the shore.

The Lake

According to Brandt’s new book, Lake Natron in North Tanzania, Africa has conditions that cause animals that crash into the lake to turn to stone.

The lake is reportedly extremely reflective, causing birds to crash into its surface. The lake can reach up to 60 C (140 F), due to its high bacteria content, according to the New Scientist.

Its high alkalinity between pH 9 and pH 10.5 and extremely high soda and salt content, caused “the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.”

The Project

Brandt found these birds and bats on the lake’s shoreline and then rearranged them in “living positions” to “bring them back to life.“ “Reanimated, alive again in death” he says in his book.

Brandt tells NewScientist: “I could not help but photograph them. No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake.”

How it Works

The lake doesn’t affect all animals, or instantly calcify them, as many have understood. Many animals such as flamingos are perfectly immune to the lake’s alkalinity.

The area actually serves as a preferred breeding area for the endangered Lesser Flamingo and is a home for some kinds of algae and bacteria.

However, other animals such as some birds and bats that crash into the lake, aren’t immune to its conditions eventually calcify and wash up on the shore.