Palaeobotany

Collection


The collection in the working and collection building “A.-B.-Meyer-Bau” was completely rearranged in 1998/1999. Subsequently and for the first time since 1885, an overall inventory could be carried out, and a computerized inventory system could be launched. According to this, the palaeobotanical collection currently comprises approximately 72,000 catalogue items of plant fossils with about 350,000 specimens including some 120 items from the early research period between 1740 till 1840.

Moreover, there still exists a large stock of rough material recovered during fieldwork over the previous years which has not yet been catalogued. The collection holds approximately 250 holotypes of fossil plant species. About 7 percent have the scientific status “original” (figured specimens in professional publications).

Unfortunately, the historical holding from the 19th century (age of Geinitz) shows enormous gaps. The predominant part of the Saxon, “patriot” collection survived World War 2 without getting damaged because the holdings had been put in safe storage in 1943/44. However, large parts of the non-Saxon material has been destroyed and burned.

Since modern palaeobotany is a science based off of earth and biological sciences, the comparison with modern material is a vital part of Tertiary palaeobotany, which is why the department established a reference herbarium which comprises approximately 8,500 fascicles. This herbarium continuously grows through the staff’s field collecting.

Using the main analytical method for Tertiary leaf fossils – the analysis of cuticles – the collection of fossil and modern cuticle slides has become one of the largest in Europe over the past decades. Currently it comprises 20,000 microscopic slides. Moreover, there is a cleared leaf collection “Transparent herbarium”, and a collection of microtome slides of fossil plant parts.

Presently, the database CUSDOS 2000 Palaeobotany (approx. 17,500 catalogue items) captures about 15% of the holding of plant fossils and 65% of the holding of herbarium material. In the near future, COSDOS will be incorporated into the Senckenberg collection database SeSam.