Abteilung Messelforschung- Sammlung
Look at the fossil bird collection

Messel Research


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. 35,000 fossils of plants from Messel are kept in glycerin in the Division of Palaeontology and Historical Geology and are curated in the Section Palaeobotany.

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

Please direct queries concerning our Messel vertebrates to Krister Smith or to our technical assitant Anika Vogel.   Our SESAM-Database contains a full accounting of our Messel vertebrate holdings, and photographs are present for many specimens. Please use the search functionality of AQUiLA to get an overview of the taxa present.