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Chinese lakebed reveals graveyard of animals killed in Pompeii-like eruption

We all know what happened, archaeologically speaking, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. This week it was revealed that many animals who died in a lakebed found in China's Liaoning province met their end in a similar manner to the residents of Pompeii.

According to History on Wednesday, a new study suggests that the Jehol Biota fossil beds containing thousands of fossilized animals were created 120 to 130 million years ago by multiple volcanic eruptions similar to Mount Vesuvius. As a result of the eruptions, many of the animals, which include early birds, mammals, and insects, are thought to be preserved in the same poses they died in.

The fossil beds are located among conifer trees and lakes in an area surrounded by volcanoes and are thought to have been impacted by eruptions during the early Cretacious period. These eruptions emitted hot gasses and ash traveling over 400 miles per hour and ultimately killed the animals instantly, completely covering them in ash like the victims of Pompeii.

"What we're talking about in this case is literal charring, like somebody got put in the grill," mineralogist George Harlow of New York's American Museum of Natural History and researcher involved in the study said. "They got fried."

The study's findings were published in this week's issue of Nature Communications. Fox News notes that though previous research had suggested the animals were fossilized because of the volcanoes, this is the first in-depth study done on the subject.