HAMBURG: Palaeontological Collections of the Center of Natural History, Universität Hamburg

  • Ulrich KotthoffEmail author
  • Jochen Schlüter
Part of the Natural History Collections book series (NHC)


The geological-palaeontological collections of the Center of Natural History have their origin in the former “Naturhistorisches Museum Hamburg” founded in 1843, but most of the old collections were destroyed in 1943. Since 1945, new extensive collections have been gathered/built up, among them an amber collection (more than 6000 amber pieces), a collection of glacial deposits, and a collection of cretaceous specimens. Around 10% of the scientific collection have been catalogued/digitalized to date. Selected objects are presented in a public exhibition area comprising ca. 900 m2. Parts of the collection are used for teaching, and particularly the amber and the micropalaeontological collections are presently in the focus of scientific research. Public relations and museum pedagogy is centrally controlled at the Center of Natural History of the Universität Hamburg, to which the Geological-Palaeontological Museum belongs since 2014.


Amber collection Palaeoentomology Palynology Glacial deposits Sedimentary peels Center of Natural History Hamburg 



We want to thank the late curator Wolfgang Weitschat (passed away in December 2016), who even after his retirement supported the collection work and contributed to public relation efforts. Photographs were provided by Alexander Bratek, Sabine Prader, and Eva Vinx. Support by Gerhard Schmiedl (Institute for Geology, Hamburg) is gratefully acknowledged.


  1. Andrén T, Jørgensen BB, Cotterill C, Green S, and the Expedition 347 Scientists (2015) Baltic Sea Paleoenvironment. Proceedings of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, TX (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program), p 347Google Scholar
  2. Bandel K (2007) Description and classification of Late Triassic Neritimorpha (Gastropoda, Mollusca) from the St Cassian Formation, Italian Alps. Bull Geosci 82:215–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beier M (1955) Pseudoscorpione im baltischen Bernstein aus dem Geologischen Staatsinstitut in Hamburg. Mitt Geol-Paläont Inst Univ Hamburg 24:48–54Google Scholar
  4. Brandt A, Kotthoff U & Kranz G (2010) Naturwissenschaftliche Museen und Sammlungen der Universität Hamburg, p 68. ISBN: 978-3-00-031816-0Google Scholar
  5. Dagys AS, Weitschat W (1993) Intraspecific variation in Boreal Triassic ammonoids. Geobios 15:107–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dlussky GM (2009) The ant subfamilies Ponerinae, Cerapachyinae, and Pseudomyrmecinae (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in the late Eocene ambers of Europe. Paleontol J 43:1043–1086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gürich G (1931) Mimetaster hexagonalis, ein neuer Kruster aus dem unterdevonischen Bundenbacher Dachschiefer. Paläontol Z 13:204–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hillmer G, Weitschat W (1983) Führer durch die Schausammlung Geologisch-Paläontologisches Institut und Museum. Hans Christians Verlag, Hamburg, ISBN 3-7672-0814-8Google Scholar
  9. Hounslow M, Mengyu H, Mörk A, Weitschat W, Vigran JS, Kourlovski V, Orchard M (2008) Intercalibration of Boreal and Tethyan time scales: the magnetobiostratigraphy of the Middle Triassic and the latest Early Triassic from Spitsbergen, Arctic Norway. Polar Res 27:469–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jason A. Dunlop, Ulrich Kotthoff, Jörg U. Hammel, Jennifer Ahrens, Danilo Harms, (2018) Arachnids in Bitterfeld amber: A unique fauna of fossils from the heart of Europe or simply old friends?. Evolutionary Systematics 2(1):31–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kommritz JG, Hillmer G (2004) Die Gattungen Parasmilia und Trochosmiloa (Scleractinia) aus der Schreibkreide Norddeutschlands. Geologisches Jahrbuch A 157:69–97Google Scholar
  12. Kotthoff U, Greenwood DR, McCarthy FMG, Müller-Navarra K, Prader S, Hesselbo SP (2014) Late Eocene to middle Miocene (33 to 13 million years ago) vegetation and climate development on the North American Atlantic Coastal Plain (IODP Expedition 313, Site M0027). Clim Past 10:1523–1539. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kotthoff U, Koutsodendris A, Pross J, Schmiedl G, Bornemann A, Kaul C, Marino G, Peyron O, Schiebel R (2011) Impact of late glacial cold events in the Northern Aegean region, reconstructed from integrated marine and terrestrial proxy data. J Quat Sci 26:86–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kotthoff U, Wappler T, Engel MS (2013) Greater past disparity and diversity hints at ancient migrations of European honey bee lineages into Africa and Asia. J Biogeogr 40:1832–1838. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Maisch MW, Spaeth C (2004) Skelettreste und Gastrolithen eines Elasmosauriers (Sauropterygia) aus der Schreibkreidegrube von Kronsmoor bei Lägerdorf (Schleswig-Holstein). Geologisches Jahrbuch A 157:99–119Google Scholar
  16. Olmi M, Bechly G (2001) New parasitic wasps from Baltic amber (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Dryinidae). Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde Serie B (Geologie und Paläontologie) 306:1–58Google Scholar
  17. Popov YA, Herczek A (2006) Cylapopsallops kerzhneri sp. n. - a new peculiar mirid from Baltic amber (Heteroptera: Miridae: Psallopinae). Russ Entomol J 15:187–188Google Scholar
  18. Pross J, Koutsodendris A, Christanis K, Fischer T, Fletcher WJ, Hardiman M, Kalaitzidis S., Knipping M, Kotthoff U, Milner AM, Müller UC, Schmiedl G, Siavalas G, Tzedakis PC, Wulf S (2015) The 1.35-Ma-long terrestrial climate archive of Tenaghi Philippon, northeastern Greece: Evolution, exploration, and perspectives for future research. Newsl Stratigr 48: 253–276. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Riedel A (2010) A new tribe, genus and species of Nemonychidae from Baltic amber (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea: Nemonychidae: Cimberidinae). Insect Syst Evol 41:29–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schulz M-G, Weitschat W (1971) Asteroideen aus der Schreibkreide von Lägerdorf (Holstein) und Hemmoor (Nord-Niedersachsen). Mitt Geol-Paläont Inst Univ Hamburg 40:107–130Google Scholar
  21. Tütken T, Kaiser TM, Vennemann T, Merceron G (2013) Opportunistic feeding strategy for the earliest old world hypsodont equids: evidence from stable isotope and dental wear proxies. PLoS One 8:e74463. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Voigt E, Gittins G (1977) The “Lackfilm” method for collecting sedimentary peels: archaeological applications. JFA 4:449–457Google Scholar
  23. Weitschat W, Brandt A, Coleman CO, Møller-Andersen N, Myers AA, Wichard W (2002) Taphocoenosis of an extraordinary arthropod community in Baltic amber. Mitt Geol-Paläont Inst Univ Hamburg 86:189–210Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological-Palaeontological Museum in the Center of Natural History, Universität HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Mineralogical Museum in the Center of Natural History, Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations