Our Paleontological Collection
The paleontological collection contains over 30.000 exhibits and is divided into:
Petrified Wood Collection
The conceptual focus of our museum is on the petrified wood collection, which is unique in the world. The collection comprises about 8.000 single objects from thin sections up to stems weighing several tons. Those pieces represent a prominent set of anatomical well preserved plant fossils from all over the world and different geological eras.
In detail there are:
- the collection of petrified wood from Chemnitz with findings going back to 1740 (i.a. coll. Leuckart, coll. Schreckenbach, coll. Weber)
- the permineralised wood and silifications (so-called hornestones, cherts or silicites) of numerous (partly exhausted by now) sites from all over the world, even Antarctica
- the pieces from different geological eras, from the Devonian up to the Neogen and from numerous different sites around the globe
- the specimens collected by museum staff from different, well documented and taphonomic depositional environments
- the evidence of various kinds of fossilisation (e.g. SiO2, CaF2, Fe-hydroxids/Fe-sulfides, carbonates i.a.) and also plant fossils of different classification (pteridophyts, gymnosperms, angiosperms, plant detritus in hornestone)
Permian petrified wood from Chemnitz is our main focus of attention. This collection grew over 3 centuries out of several, scientific valuable collections, which are classified into current systematics. The first scientific descriptions of the petrified wood from Chemnitz by Sprengel and Cotta even inspired Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Thus, in the 19th century, researchers from different universtities and museums came to study these fossils.
The collection of petrified wood goes back to numerous donations, purchases, inheritance and active field sampling. The activities of the following persons had an high impact on the collection:
- Hermann Ottomar Leuckart (1818-1902),
- Gottfried Hermann Schreckenbach (1807-1875),
- Otto Weber (1858-1910),
- Max Güldner (1872-1947),
- Johann Traugott Sterzel (1841-1914),
- Gerald Urban (1937),
- Robert Noll (1961),
- Knut Nestler (1947),
- Bernd Tunger (1963),
- Ronny Rößler (1965).
Additionally, originals and referenced pictures from Bernhard von Cotta, Heinrich Robert Göppert (1800-1884), Carl Gustav Stenzel (1826-1905), Johann Traugott Sterzel, Erich Strauß (1884-1955), Birbal Sahni (1891-1949), Georg Mayas (1880-1965), Gerald Urban, Manfred Barthel, Robert Noll, Jean Galtier and Ronny Rößler belong to the collection.
A broad stratigraphic range of plant fossils represents a comprehensive overview of plant systematic fossil remains (pteridophytes, gymnosperms, angiosperms, plant detritus in hornestones, stromatolites).
The main part of the collection of permineralised wood and silifications derive from Permian depositions, mainly from Chemnitz-Altendorf, Freital-Kleinnauendorf, Leukersdorf, NW-Saxony, Zwickau and Sardinia. Following people are most relevant for the collections´ expansion: Max Wilsdorf (1844-1926), Otto Weber, Gerald Urban, Knut Nestler, Helmut Schlesier, Robert Noll, Bernd Tunger, Sven Eulenberger, Andreas Vorsatz, Ralph Kretzschmar, Hagen Sahm and Ronny Rößler. Originals and documented pictures illustrate publications of Johann Traugott Sterzel, Volker Götzelt, Manfred Barthel and Ronny Rößler.
The paleobotanical collection contains mainly local collections of the Carboniferous and Permian from Germany but also of other geological eras.
- the comprehensive collections of the terrestrial Lower Carboniferous from Chemnitz-Borna and Hainichen: The collections originate from the end of the 19th century including objects from the molding pits of Chemnitz salvaged by Georg Mayas (1880-1965), Johann Traugott Sterzel, and current findings of Rolf List, Jürgen Meyer, Jörg Schneider and Ronny Rößler of the year 1997. The scientific revisers of these findings are Johann Traugott Sterzel, Wolfgang Hartung (1907-1995), Friedrich Nindel (1887-1960), Klaus-Ulrich Leistikow (1929-2002), Jörg Schneider (born in 1948) and Ronny Rößler (born in 1965). The collections comprise both originals and referenced pictures.
- the most comprehensive collection of the Upper Carboniferous from Zwickau-Lugau-Oelsnitz: In the course of about 130 years a comprehensive collection established. Following collectors were involved i.a. Alfred Pelz (1871-1914), Johann Traugott Sterzel, Adrian Schubert, Jürgen Meyer, Uwe Dittmann and Ronny Rößler.
- donations of the former mining operations. The originals and referenced pictures originate from Johann Traugott Sterzel, Walther Gothan (1879-1954), Rudolf Daber (born in 1929) and Diethard Storch. The latest analyses were performed by Eberhard Kahlert und Stephan Schultka. Furthermore, some documented pictures of arthropods (conchostraca, otsracods, insects, arthropleura and arachnids) are added, which mainly derive from the collector and citizen scientist Jürgen Meyer.
- the coal-bearing Upper Carboniferous and Permian is verfied by a great stock of different sites. These include the Variscan basin with fossil remains from the Ruhr region, Belgium, England, Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia as well as intermontane valleys such as the Saar-Nahe basin, the Central Bohemian basin (Nyrany, Radnice) or the Flöha basin near Chemnitz with originals of Gothan (1932). In addition, there are remains of the Upper Carboniferous from Northern Spain (Cantabrien), Italy (Verrucano), France, USA (Manning Canyon Shale) and Permian remains from Russia.
- the collection of the Rotliegend in the Erzgebirge basin consists in particular of tuff inprints and was mostly established by Otto Weber. The first saurian finding from Chemnitz goes back to Knut Nestler. Documented evidences by Johann Traugott Sterzel of the floras of NW Saxony, Döhlen basin, Ilfelder basin and the Black Forest as well as some branchiosaurus in limestone from Niederhäslich compliment the historical valuable collection. Findings of classic sites such as Manebach, Crock, Friedrichroda, Oberhof and Tambach-Dietharz represent the Permian of the Thuringian Forest. From Permian of the Palatinate originate more recently tuff and cherts collected by Robert Noll. Some originals and referenced pictures are selected to illustrate publications of Johann Traugott Sterzel, Manfred Barthel, Robert Noll and Ralf Werneburg. This part of the collection is complemented with stromatolites from the Precambrian, Devonian, Permian and Triassic. Further findings verify the Germanic Triassic, the Carnian of Luz/Austria, the Cretacous and the Paleogene/Neogene (i.a. Northern Bohemia, Espenhain).
The stratigraphic-paleozoological collection contains temporal and regional classified objects from Precambrian up to Quarternary of Germany with focus on long-standing german sites of fossil preservation (e.g. Thuringia and Saxony (Silurian), Eifel (Devonian), Mansfelder copper schist (Permian), Solnhofen and Holzmaden (Jurassic), Saxony, Rugia and Brazil (Cretacous), Mainzer basin, Bitterfelder and Baltic amber (Tertiary, Neogene).
(partioned regionally and stratigraphically, 13,000 pieces) with particular focuses on:
Carboniferous: Erzgebirge basin (Visé from Chemnitz/Borna and Westfal D from Zwickau/Lugau/Oelsnitz, with numerous types and documtented pictures); further international Carboniferous depositions (i.a. Bohemia, Spain, Italy)
Rotliegend (Permian): Erzgebirge basin, Döhlen basin, NW-Saxony, Ilfeld basin, Black Forest, palatinate, Southern France and Russia (numerous original picture of Johann Traugott Sterzel)
Zechstein (Permian), especially copper schist from Central Germany
Paleozoic (Precambrian from Russia, Cambrian and Ordovician of the Barrandian, graptolites from the Saxon/Vogtland/Thuringian Silurian, Devonian in the Rhenish und Bohemian facies)
Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic with i.a.paleozoological findings of Southern Germany; Cretacous of Saxony and the Baltic coast)
Cenozoic (inclusions of amber of the Tertiary of Saxony, Northern Bohemia, Colorado/USA and Quaternary of the region of Chemnitz)
Collection of hornestones (fossiliferous silicites of the Early Devonian from Rhynie, the Lower Carboniferous and Permian from France, of the Permian from Germany and Czechia and of the Tertiary from Hungary)
The collection of facies represent typical terrestrial and marine depositional environments e.g. reefs and paleosols (under construction).
Museum für Naturkunde Chemnitz | Moritzstraße 20, 09111Chemnitz
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