An arid tropical landscape, with mudflats and salt lakes. Rare tropical storms brought in flash floods, draining into temporary lakes and pools. When these pools dried out under the baking hot sun, huge salt crystals formed, now preserved as 'fossils'.

The mudflats were featureless, extending for thousands of kilometres with little or no plant life. Few creatures could survive with so little food or water, save for a few insects and small, primitive reptiles, now known only from their fossilized footprints preserved in the rock.

Mercia Mudstone at Bantycock Gypsum Mine, Newark. Gypsum mined from these rocks is used in cement, plasterboard and paint manufacture. Much of Nottingham is built from brick clays quarried from these rocks
(Reproduced by permission of the British Geological Survey. © NERC. All rights reserved. IPR/24-3C)

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