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Mineralogical Collection

When the Collection was established in 1895, the initial fund included the minerals from Great School. Today this Collection includes about 15.000 specimens from the area of former Yugoslavia, Serbia, Soviet Union, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Australia. Most specimens were directly collected in the field, while many were acquired as donations or through exchange with other collections. Besides the attractive looks, minerals and crystals also have a particular museological and scientific importance. Beauty of quartz, amethyst, malachite, granate etc. is well known. The worldwide recognition of beauty is that of minerals from the mine Stari Trg (at Trepča), which has been exploited since XI century, and the German miner F. Schumacher collected over 800 specimens in the period 1945-1950. This Collection also includes srbijanite and jankovicite, which were discovered in 1995 in vicinity of Kraljevo. Jadarite, with a chemical structure very similar to imaginary kryptonite from the Superman’s planet, had originated in the area of Jadar. The meteorites, messengers from the space, represent a significant part of the Collection. The most valuable are Jelica’s meteorite and Sokobanja’s meteorite, with a characteristic composition, while one of the heaviest meteorites comes from Dimitrovgrad; with a diameter of only 45 cm it is 100 kg in weight.

Petrologic Collection

This collection includes specimens of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that build up the geological substrate of Balkan Peninsula, as well as the specimens from other parts of Europe and World. It was established in 1901, with 1200 rock specimens from several collections at Great School (Topographic Geology of Kingdom of Serbia by Jovan Žujović, Collection from Old Serbia and Macedonia, Geological Collection from Bosnia and Hercegovina etc.). Today it includes about 15.000 specimens. The oldest specimen is from 1858, and the first collectors included Josif Pančić, Jovan Žujović, Savo Urošević and Petar S. Pavlović. During the last 100 years the Collection had increased significantly, mostly by addition of rocks from Serbia and Montenegro. It has museological, scientific and educational significance, as it represents the diversity and complexity of geological substrate of this region. Following are the most important: phonolite from Belgrade (rare rock both at global and national level), skarn from Kopaonik (one of best-developed contact zones in Europe), mica-schist from Caričin Grad near Lebane (used to build the antique settlement), granite from Aswan in Egypt with the oldest rock quarries in the world.

Paleobotanical Collection

Most of the 7.600 specimens in this Collection are the fossilized remains of plants that inhabited the present-day Balkan Peninsula during the last 400 million years. The smaller part of the Collection is fossils from Poland, Germany, India and Jamaica. This Collection was started in 1935 by Pavle Ivanovič Černjavski (1892-1969), the first curator of Paleobotanics at the Natural History Museum. The Collection includes fossils from almost all geological periods: Devonian, Carboniferous, Carboniferous-Permian, Triassic-Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleogene, Neogene and Pleistocene. Most fossils are from Neogene (25-1.8 mya) and the least from Cretaceous (about 144-65 mya). The oldest fossilized plants are from Devonian (about 400 mya), while the youngest (age estimated to 100-50 tya) are from Pleistocene (Ice Age). This Collection mostly includes leaf imprints, although there are also some imprints of fruit, branches and seeds. Very few specimens are petrified (permineralized) parts of plants (parts of stems, branches and pine cones) as well as the petrified inner parts (molds) of Equisetophyta (Carboniferous, Carboniferous-Permian) and mummified willow (Salix) leaves from Ice Age.

Another important part of the Collection is the herbarium with leaves of modern exotic woody plants from subtropical and tropical parts of North and South America, Caribbean region, Asia, Africa and Australia, which represent the comparative material, used for easier morphological identification of fossilized leaves.

Collection of Paleozoic Fossil Invertebrates

This collection includes over 7000 fossilized remains of invertebrates from Yugoslav countries, former Soviet republics, Great Britain, France, Poland, Czech Republic and Australia. These animals mostly do not have any relatives in modern fauna. They lived in Paleozoic (about 530-250 mya), one of the longest periods in Earth’s geological history. This collection is one of the oldest in the Natural History Museum. Its initial part is composed of specimens taken in 1901 from the Natural Science Cabinet of Great School. Best represented in the Collection are the graptolite fossils from Silurian (about 440-420 mya), collected at various sites in eastern Serbia. The representatives of trilobite fossils from Western Serbia (Družetić) and Czech Republic are scarce but of extreme museological and scientific importance. The Collection also includes a small collection of models (copies of original representatives) of so-called Ediacara fauna, recorded at the locality Ediacara Hills in southern Australia.

Graptolites are extinct marine colonial animals resembling hieroglyphs (grapthos = text; lithos = rock). They are extremely important for reconstruction of time and spatial distribution and living conditions in Paleozoic.

Trilobites, an extinct group of arthropods, ruled supreme the sees and oceans throughout the world more than 300 mya.

The Ediacara fauna (about 600-545 million years ago) is a real paleontological oddity phenomenon, as it includes petrified remains of soft parts of animals that only resemble present-day jellyfish and worms but have no proper relatives among extinct or living organisms.

Collection of Mesozoic Fossil Invertebrates

This collection includes about 10,000 specimens of fossilized invertebrates from Mesozoic (about 250-65 mya), the geological age marked by turbulent dramatic changes of the Earth’s surface and composition of wildlife. This particularly diverse, abundant and well-preserved paleontological material has been collected for more than 100 years in areas of Balkans, Poland, France, Germany, Algeria, Libya and Iraq. Some fossils of brachiopods, gastropods, bivalves and sea urchins were already collected in the second half of the XIX century, at the first geological field trips. The first specimens in the Collection were processed in 1905 by Dimitrije Antula and Petar S. Pavlović, the founders of geology and paleontology in Serbia. Most Mesozoic marine animals do not have any representatives in modern fauna, and their preserved fossilized remains are unique and irreplaceable life forms testifying on the richness of plant life of that age. There is a special museological, scientific and educational significance in those parts of the Collection that represents the referential material for numerous monograph studies on invertebrates of Serbia and Balkan Peninsula.

Ammonites (similar to modern Nautilus) from Jurassic, collected at Đerdap Gorge (profile Greben), are the type material for this animal group in Southeastern Europe. They are also a real naturalist rarity, as they are the only preserved specimens from this locality which was submerged after the erection of Đerdap dam. The specimens of corals from Early Cretaceous recorded in Eastern Serbia are holotypes used to describe species new for science. The shells of rudist bivalves which used to reach size over 1 m, collected in western and eastern Serbia, indicate that this area used to be covered with sea banks.

Collection of Quaternary Invertebrates

One of the oldest collections in the Natural History Museum is the collection of fossil invertebrates from Cenozoic. It was established in 1895 by Academy Member Petar S. Pavlović, the first Director of the Museum. The oldest specimens in geological sense are from Paleogene (over 20 mya) and were collected in Macedonia. The most numerous are the Neogene invertebrates (up to 15 mya) from Serbia. For more than 100 years the material was collected mostly in Serbia but also in other countries of Balkan Peninsula, as well as in Austria, Romania and Hungary. This is one of the largest Collections, including representatives of various invertebrate groups. The most numerous (over 400,000 specimens) are fossil mollusks from Tertiary that used to live in seas and lakes, while the land mollusks from Quaternary, found in loess and loessoid sediments, are scarcer (about 2000 specimens; mostly representatives of younger Pleistocene, several hundred thousand years old). One particularly important part of the Collection includes specimens of Tertiary mollusks, found in the lacustrine sediments on Kosovo and Metohija by the Museum curator Velimir Milošević. The Collection of Cenozoic invertebrates has a great historical and scientific value, as it indicates the diversity and complexity of fauna of that period. It was used to prepare the edition Geology of Serbia (1977) as well as numerous Doctor and Master Theses and monographs in fields of stratigraphy, paleozoology and paleoecology, and also plays an important role in educational and exhibition activities.

Collection by Academy Member Petar Stevanović

This collection includes over 300.000 fossilized invertebrate remains, mostly of Tertiary age, from the territory of Balkans, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Italy and Iran. It was established in 1939 as a legacy of Academy Member Petar Stevanović (1914-1999), who spent first several yeas of his long working life at the Natural History Museum. Best represented group is of Neogene age (up to 15 mya). Besides the mollusks, this Collection also includes fossilized remains of other invertebrate groups (trilobites and crinoids, several mya) as well as microfauna, etc. The youngest specimens in geological sense are representatives of Quaternary mollusks (up to several tens of tya). As P. Stevanović spent most of his working life at Faculty of Mining and Geology, the Collection also includes the material collected for students’ Bachelor Theses. Most important part of the Collection includes the holotypes of taxa new for science, as well as the rare species. Most of the collection was used to prepare the edition Geology of Serbia (1977) as well as other expert and scientific works, primarily in the fields of stratigraphy and paleontology, but also paleoecology, paleogeography etc.

Paleontological Collection by Nadežda Krstić

This Collection was established in 1996 and it is a legacy of Dr Nadežda Krstić. It contains fossilized remains of ostracodes (shells with two oval-kidney-shaped parts) that lived during the Tertiary (50-2 mya). This collection is referent for studies of ostracodes of Southern Europe during the Tertiary due to its composition and size (over 3,000,000 specimens). The material was collected in a broad area of Middle and South Europe, mostly at Balkans. The specimens acquired through exchange with experts from other regions are important as comparative material. Particularly important is material from former Soviet Union as well as from the Adriatic Sea (collected by Italian experts). There is a special scientific value in 250 holotypes used to describe previously unknown species and several larger taxa. Many species were named after the prominent persons, such as Josif Pančić (Reticulocandona pancici), Nikola Tesla (Cypria teslae), Mihajlo Pupin (Qinghaicypris pupini), Mihajlo Petrović Alas (Caspiola alasi), Miloš Crnjanski (Ilyocpris crnjanski), Laza Kostić (Neglecandona kostici); or after a locality where they were first found: Cyprideis singiduni (Belgrade), Caspiola beocini (Beočin), Semicytherura slavonica (Slavonia), Moenocypris montenegrina (Montenegro), Candona strumice (Strumica), Candona corinthi (Corinth), Candona hvosnoica (Hvosno: Middle Ages name for the northern part of Metohija).

Collection of Fossil Lower Vertebrates

The Collection of fossil lower vertebrates encompasses the fossilized remains of fishes, amphibians, reptiles and birds. It is one of the youngest collections in Natural History Museum, as it was established as a separate collection in 1999 from the fund of vertebrate fossils. It includes the specimens collected during the last half a century at the sites of Tertiary and Quaternary fossils throughout Serbia. A smaller number of specimens were acquired by exchange or as donations from other museums and persons from country and abroad. These specimens present some important data about changes in characteristics and composition of fauna of this area in last 15 million years.

Collection of Small Mammals from Tertiary

This collection was established in 1990 and includes about 5000 fossilized remains (bones and teeth) of over 100 species of small mammals (Micromammalia) which lived at the Balkan Peninsula during the Tertiary (from Oligocene to Eopleistocene, about 25-2 mya). The best represented fossils were found in the Miocene terrestrial and lacustrine sediments in Central Serbia. The oldest specimens in the Collection originated in the sediments of vicinity of Veles in Macedonia, while the most abundant ones are from sites in Serbia: Rekovac (Sibnica), Mionica (Vračevići), Kraljevo (Tavnik). As the teeth of most mammals (bats, insectivores, lagomorphs and rodents) are very tiny, they are extracted from the sediments where they spent millions of years by sifting through special sieves. This collection has a particular museological and scientific significance as all these specimens were recorded for the first time in our area, while the Oligocene species from Ugljevik in Bosnia and Hercegovina belong to an endemic fauna with previously unknown genera. The comparative material of rodents from several localities in Greece and Turkey is the integral part of the collection. One part of this Collection was used in order to prepare a monograph on distribution and migration of Tertiary mammals of Eurasia (Marković, Z. 2003: The Miocene small mammals of Serbia. In: Reumer, J. W. F. & Wessels, W., eds: Distribution and migration of Tertiary mammals in Eurasia) published by the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam.

Collection of Small Mammals from Quaternary

This Collection was established in 1990 and it includes over 10,000 osteological (bones) and odontological (teeth) fossil remains of over 60 species of small mammals (bats, insectivores, rabbits, and rodents) from the Quaternary period (about 180,000 years ago to present). Most of the material originated in Serbia (caves: Lazareva Pećina, Mandina Pećina, Vernjikica, Vagica and Vrelska Pećina; mountains: Venčac, Miroč etc.) but the small numbers found in cave Basham (Israel) are also the significant part of this Collection. The fossils were found in the sediments that during the last glacial (Pleistocene, about 180-11 tya) formed in caves, rock shelters, round holes and loess sediment, as well as through decomposition of breccia (bones within limestone and tufa). As the shape and structure of teeth are characteristic for the species, the most valuable part of the Collection is the fossilized remains as they enable the most reliable identification of a species. This Collection is unique in representation of a larger number of species from Pleistocene (about 2 mya until 20 tya). Many of them are recorded for this region for the first time, indicating the diversity of mammals at Balkans of the time. Parts of this Collection were used to prepare numerous scientific works, Doctors’ and Masters’ Theses.

Collection of Large Mammals from Tertiary

This collection was established in 1895. It includes about 7000 specimens of fossilized bones and teeth of large mammals that during the Neogene (about 25-1.8 mya) lived in the area of Balkan Peninsula. The most plentiful and for paleontological studies most important material was found in Toplička Kotlina valley and Brajkovac (vicinity of Lazarevac) as well as near Veles (Macedonia). Dominant animals are those characteristic of steppe habitats, such as the extinct relatives of present-day hyenas, elephants, horses, giraffes, deer, antelopes and gazelles. This Collection also includes the remains of the species recorded in our region for the first time, so it has an important value of both museological and scientific type. As a whole, this Collection is important for reconstruction and understanding of events and processes in time and space.

Collection of Large Mammals from Quaternary

This collection is composed of fossilized remains of large mammals from the Quaternary period (about 1.8 mya to present) recorded at the territory of Serbia. The collection was established in 1895, and the oldest specimens were collected by first Serbian naturalists. Out of 8000 specimens, most are mammalian (cave bear, cave hyena, mammoth, deer, bison) from Pleistocene (1.8 mya – 10 tya), and their remains (teeth and parts of skeleton) were preserved in alluvial and cave sediments. Besides the museological and educational, this Collection has a particular scientific importance as it testifies of animals that lived in the region of present-day Serbia in ancient past. It is also a base for preparing Masters’ and Doctors’ Theses, as well as numerous scientific and expert papers.