Last update: 11 February 2017
This gallery displays a selection of mementos of the Earth's deep past, including fossils, rocks, manuscripts, photographs and other artifacts. After a description of the Fossil Record, we move to the place of Man in it, going from the Anthropocene to the Antediluvian. Sections follow on lost landscapes and extinct species. Most of the displayed specimens were deaccessioned from collections of historical importance.
Historical collections have chains-of-custody spanning over many decades and some specimens may therefore be mislabelled due to poor handling. We are doing our best to verify the name of the different species but some errors may remain. Please let us know if you find any mistake. Your help is highly appreciated.
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The legacy of William Smith & the stratigraphy of Great Britain
William Smith (1769-1839), regarded as the Father of English Geology, created the first geologic map of Great Britain (including England, Wales and parts of Scotland) that he published in 1815. This map showed the great diversity of Great Britain geology with rocks of almost all geological ages represented at outcrops. All of this record is condensed in The Tricottet Collection in an antique collection of British rocks displayed in a wooden box and arranged during the period 1866-1874 by famous mineral dealer James R. Gregory (1832-1899) of Victorian London . The sedimentary rock section of this collection is composed of 72 specimens, a record of the following formations (as written on the labels): Recent, Pleistocene, Pliocene, Miocene, Eocene, Cretaceous, Wealden, Purbeck, Oolite, Lias, Rhaetic, Trias, Permian, Carboniferous, Devonian, Silurian and Cambrian.
WANTED: Early 19th century geological map of Great Britain.
Animals hunted to extinction by Man
Summary coming later.
Figures: Letter on Steller's sea cow (Pouchet, 1879)
Summary coming later
Figures: "Fossilized Human Finger" replicas (CEM)
Life in a deep marine environment
A suite from the Horsham Museum
It is from the white chalk of the Anglo-Paris Basin that the Cretaceous System takes its name (creta = Latin for chalk), introduced by the Belgian geologist Omalius d'Halloy (1822). "The Chalk" is the equivalent to the Upper Cretaceous with chalk a rock primarily composed of coccoliths (remains of planktonic algae) and formed at depths of hundreds of metres. Alcide D'Orbigny's mid-19th century stage concept came largely from the Chalk of the Paris Basin, particularly the southern margins around Le Mans (Sarthe, Cenomanian) and Touraine (Turonian). The Senonian Stage was based on the Chalk around Sens, Yonne. The uppermost stage was originally distinguished by Dumont (1849), based on the chalk found around Maastricht, Netherlands (Maastrichtian). The interval corresponding to d'Orbigny's broad Senonian Stage was further subdivided by Coquand (1856, 1857, 1858) into the Coniacian, Santonian and Campanian stages based on sections around Cognac, Saintes and Charante, in the Aquitaine Basin, France. It was not until 1983 that these subdivisions finally replaced the "Senonian" as formal stages. The zones recognized in the Paris Basin were extended to the Kent coast and the rest of England in the middle of the second half of the 19th century. The division in stages was based on the study of the distribution of fossils: ammonites, belemnites, crinoids , fish teeth, bones and coptrolites , molluscs , sponges , starfishes and urchins .
Figures (HORSM suite):  Crinoids |  Fish teeth, bones & coptrolites |  Molluscs |  Sponges |  Urchins
WANTED: Other British chalk fossils deaccessioned from the Horsham Museum (from the dispersed 2014 Toovey's auction lots)
Extinct marine reptiles
Historically the richest Middle Jurassic reptile site in Great Britain, the Stonesfield area (4 old mines as SSSI since 1955) has yielded numerous remains (incl. some type specimens) of plesiosaurs , marine crocodiles, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, turtles and mammal-like reptiles (ictidosaurs). These occur as well preserved teeth , bones and bony plates. The site includes also important floras and invertebrate faunas (e.g., classic site for the study of fossil insects). This is where William Buckland recognized and described the first dinosaur (Megalosaurus). It is also where the first known pre-Tertiary mammals were found, which caused a major controversy in the early 19th century.
Figures:  Plesiosaurus tooth (B.M. Wright, Sr.)
Life on the south-eastern shelf of the Old Red Continent
A suite from the Wilhelm Salomon-Calvi collection, Heidelberg University
The Eifel region (Rhenish Massif, Germany) is renown for its richly fossiliferous fauna from the Middle Devonian. The shallow marine environment of the Old Red Continent was the habitat of corals, brachiopods, crinoids and trilobites. Due to its location, the Eifel is one of the most classical regions for the early study of Devonian fossils. It is characterized by different facies: clastic sediments, carbonate platforms and biostromal reefs, limestones and marls.
Figures (Heidelberg Uni. suite): Corals | Brachiopods | Crinoids | Trilobites | Labels | Label (B. Dohm)
WANTED: Dohm, B. (1927), Geognostisches Eifelmuseum: Fossilien, Mineralien, Gesteinsarten 1926/27, Paulinus-Druckerei GmbH, 31 pp. | Other fossils from the Heidelberg University / Wilhelm Salomon-Calvi collection.
Summary coming later
Figures: Acidaspis mira (B.M. Wright, Sr. / J. Cummings) | Trilobite cast (L. Boucher)