Monday, November 09, 2009

Museums I've Been To: Europe - Part 1: Berlin

Berlin, Germany. 2002.

Our tour through the museums of 2002 Europe begins with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Established in 1810, this is a world-class institution containing two of palaeontology's crown jewel specimens - the Giraffatitan (Brachiosaurus) mount and the Berlin Archaeopteryx. I visited the museum in the summer of 2002, and it has since had a major refit and renovation, so much of what I will show here has changed. If anyone has descriptions of the new layout, I would love to hear it.
Archaeopteryx lithographica

Upon entering the museum, you are immediately dwarfed by the huge main gallery and its centerpiece, the brachiosaur (I will henceforth be incorrectly referring to the Giraffatitan as Brachiosaurus as I was in 2002 and because I want to. She will always be Brachiosaurus in my heart...) Flanking the gigantic sauropod are two more: a cast of the ubiquitous Carnegie Diplodocus and a lovely Dicraeosaurus.

(left) Me and Megalodon's Jaws.

The rest of the photographs speak for themselves. Most of the dinosaur fossils on display were collected during the 1903-1913 Tendaguru Expedition to East Africa (southern Tanzania). Led by Werner Janensch and Edwin Henning, over 250 tons of fossil bone was collected from this 150 million year old Late Jurassic deposit.

Giraffatitan brancai (Brachiosaurus)

Dicraeosaurus hansemanni
See the new mount in this wikipedia photo!

Kentrosaurus aethiopicus
It's new mount can be seen in the dicreasaur photo.

Plateosaurus engelhardti

Elaphrosaurus bambergi
Click here for the new mount!!! It doesn't even look like the same animal!

Dryosaurus (Dysalotosaurus) lettowvorbeck
See the updated mount here...

Stenopterygius zetlandicus

Some nothosaur (name?)

The Second Oldest Turtle = Proganochelys dux

Case of Swimming Things: Fish, seals, penguins, dolphins, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs.

The museum and some of the collections were damaged in February of 1945, when an allied bombing raid left the east wing in ruins. It is now finally being rebuilt.

Amazingly, Wikipedia states that less than 1 in 5000 specimens are on display! I'd love to poke around in their extensive collections and see what treasures I could find...

Thank you for joining me on this quick tour. But don't take my word for it, go to the Museum für Naturkunde the next time you're in Berlin, and say hello to my Brachio!


the writer said...

Nice museum for a Paleontologist :)

Best two I've been to are NYC's MET (unreal) and Mexico City's Natural Museum of Anthropology. Both places you could spend a week in.

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

I'll definitely go there!

It's curious to see how different the new mounts are compared to the ones in your pictures.

Nima said...

Hey Peter, great vintage pics of the Humboldt museum!

I like the new mount a lot, it's way more accurate with the posture and uses more of the actual bones (or just better casts) with a very sophisticated system like the one used for Sue the T.rex, allowing any bone to be temporarily removed for study by the paleontologists.

Though the head on the old one was better (and for some odd reason the new mount has artificial feet instead of the real ones... and these placeholders even lack the third digit's claw!).

BTW, thanks for fixing the size issue with my sauropod restorations (and for informing the SV-POWsketeers about it).

Peter Bond said...

Ryan - Cheers man,the MET is fantastic, as is NYC's AMNH. I would LOVE to see Mexico City's museums!

Dinorider - Isn't it fascinating?!? I had only seen the giraffatitan remount until I made this post, and I caught the new mounts. No more tails-dragging! I want to go back!

Nima - The pics are a slice-in-time! I love the histories of museums... Your welcome about the resizing, just email me fist, k? ;)

It is sweet to be noticed by SV-POW, the "big boys!" ART Evolved gets bigger and bigger!

Raptor Lewis said...

I take it the original S. aegyptiacus mount was in the East Wing, then?

Nice museum, that is definitely on my list of museums to visit when I am older. :) Thanks!

And, by the way, I agree with you on sticking with the name we knew it as...Brachiosaurus. And, as Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That by which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." (Juliet, "Romeo and Juliet," II. ii. 1-2). ;)