You won't find human bodies in Lake Natron in Tanzania, but this tranquil lake is eerie nonetheless. With its caustic waters (pH 10.5 or so), Lake Natron preserves the bodies of the animals that die there, creating mummies that litter the shores. [See Photos of the Animals Turned to Stone in Lake Natron]
A 2013 book catalogued the dead of Lake Natron in solemn grayscale: birds and bats, mostly. But life thrives in the lake, too. Flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) breed on its islands, and salt marshes around the lake host other birds and fish. The odd chemistry of the lake is due to deposits of sodium carbonate in the surrounding land. These same minerals form the main ingredient of natron, the salt that ancient Egyptians used to mummify their dead.
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.