The Quaternary Large Mammal Section continues a tradition of interregional Ice Age research, which has been in existence in Weimar since the second half of the 19th century. Recent projects are focused on the evolution of Pleistocene mammal communities predominantly of the northern hemisphere in relation to environmental changes. Links between rhythmic climatic variability and biodiversity are of particular interest.
The projects carried out in this section are included in the Senckenberg research field Biodiversity and Climate.
Further research topics include investigation of extensive large mammal remains from the period from 1.2 to 0.9 million years before present, the reconstruction of the origin, evolution and dispersal of Eurasian Mammoth Faunas and of individual taxonomic mammal groups. We are also engaged in the reconstruction of palaeoenvironmental conditions, as they were encountered by prehistoric man in Europe. The research is conducted within interdisciplinary networks and in cooperation with international partners.
Long term collecting, in addition to planned and rescue excavations, conducted over many decades, has added significantly to the Senckenberg collections of Pleistocene larger mammal fossils in Weimar. This collection is now one of the world's most complete archives of fossil finds from the last three million years of earth’s history. Eleven major fossil collections (Untermassfeld, Voigtstedt, Süssenborn, Weimar-Ehringsdorf, Taubach, Weimar, Burgtonna, Thuringian Basin, Southern Thuringia, Foreign Countries, and Type Collection) comprise nearly 32,000 individual large mammal fossil remains from some 310 sites of different geological age. Original papers have already been published on more than 70% of these finds. The collections are regularly used by international researchers. In addition to the results of new excavations and international expeditions, the fossil collections offer scope for wider research into distinct groups of large mammals and faunal complexes of the Quaternary sensu lato.