Vertebrates, insects and plants make up the vast majority of the Senckenberg Messel collections. We also have a large archive of digital photographs and X-radiographs of Messel fossils.
Each year new discoveries made by the Senckenberg excavation team are added to the collections. Certain exceptional Messel fossils were donated by private collectors in the 1970s and 1980s or were purchased with generous outside financial support. In particular, the Erika and Walter Datz Foundation and the Albert and Barbara von Metzler Foundation deserve special mention.
The vertebrate collection, encompassing about 5000 specimens, is housed in Frankfurt. They are very fragile and were transfered from oilshale onto epoxy plates for long-term storage. Among the most notable fossils are small ancestral horse relatives, the reptiles (including 2-m-long snakes) and over 50 species of bird, partly with fantastic feather preservtion.
The c. 18,000 fossils of invertebrates (chiefly insects) from Messel are housed in the Research Station Messel and are curated in the Section Palaeoentomology.
Availability of the Messel vertebrate collection for guest researchers
The fossil vertebrates from Messel will soon be moved to a new collections area. Move preparation and execution requires that accessibility of the collection be heavily curtailed from 01 August 2019 to 31 May 2020. The fossil plants and invertebrates from Messel are not affected by the move.