Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden


Section Palaeobotany – studying prehistoric plants and vegetation

The Section of Palaeobotany sees itself as a center for Cenozoic macro-palaeobotany, in particular for the investigation of leaf floras using cuticle analysis. Not only has this been the focus of scientific work for more than 5 decades now, we have also developed the necessary preparation and collection management skills. On the basis of our taxonomic/systematic core competencies the focus is on applied issues such as the reconstruction of palaeovegetation, palaeoenvironmental research, and palaeoclimate research.

Most of the research topics are part of the research activity „Deep time: Evolving Earth and Palaeoenvironments“ within the research field Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics. Besides, our research projects contribute to the research activity "Taxonomy and Systematics" of the research field Biodiversity and Systematics.

Current Research:

  • reconstruction of the vegetation and climate in the Palaeogene and Neogene of Central Europe focusing on Central Germany
  • taxonomy and systematics (conifers, Fagaceae, Theaceae, Acer, )
  • evolution and diversity of Cretaceous conifers
  • gymnosperms of the mid-Cretaceous of Northern Gondwana
  • Palaeogene conifers of the arctic zones
eotrigonobalanus viscum mastixia
Eotrigonobalanus furcinervis (leaf of extinct species of beech family), open-cast mine Vereinigtes Schleenhain, Saxony, Eocene. Fossil cuticle of Viscum morlotii leaf (Tertiary mistletoe), Wiesa, Saxony, Miocene.  Mastixia lusatica (stony endocarp of a Tertiary species of Mastixiaceae), Wiesa, Saxony, Miocene.


Furthermore, the scientists of the Section of Palaeobotany teach at the universities of the Free State of Saxony, and supervise graduate as well as Ph.D. students.

With its over 100,000 catalogued items (plant fossils, specimen slides and stubs, and herbarium specimens), the research collection of the palaeobotanical section is amongst the largest and most significant of its kind in Germany and Europe.

The section is in close scientific collaboration with the other palaeobotanical and palynological sections within Senckenberg (Section of Palaeobotany ,and Section  of palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironmental research at the Frankfurt site, Sections of Quarternary macrofloras and Quarternary microfloras at the Weimar site).