The Bolca Collection of the Museum of Paleontology

The Bolca Eocene fish collection consists of fifty specimens belonging to 23 species of fish, coming from one of the most important fossil sites of the Tertiary era (about 50 million years).

By Sistema Museale Università di Parma

Mene rhombeaSistema Museale Università di Parma

The Bolca Eocene fish collection consists of fifty specimens belonging to 23 species of fish, coming from one of the most important fossil sites of the Tertiary era (about 50 million years).

Sparnodus elongatusSistema Museale Università di Parma

The Eocene one of Bolca is one of the most famous and important in the world for the variety (about 300 species) and the perfect state of conservation of the finds.

Sparnodus vulgarisSistema Museale Università di Parma

It mainly contains fossil specimens of fish but there are also remains of crustaceans, jellyfish, molluscs, annelids, insects, foraminifera, and plants. This paleontological heritage is now preserved in the most prestigious Natural Science Museums in Italy and in the world (Verona, London, Vienna, New York, Washington, Moscow) and in countless private collections.

Mene rhombeaSistema Museale Università di Parma

The fossil-Lagerstatte is a sedimentary rock that offers an exceptional amount of information on the life of the past due to the abundance of specimens contained.

Sparnodus vulgarisSistema Museale Università di Parma

The Eocene deposit of Bolca (Val d’Alpona, province of Verona) in the most famous and fossiliferous locations, La Pesciara and Monte Postale, is characterized by micritic limestones of about 50 million years ago completely surrounded by volcanic rocks.

Chanoides macropomaSistema Museale Università di Parma

The very fine grain size has allowed the skeleton of fish to be admirably preserved with sometimes some organic structures and dark spots that indicate the ancient presence of pigments.

Sparnodus vulgarisSistema Museale Università di Parma

The Bolca fish collection preserved in the Museum of Paleontology of the University of Parma consists of small and medium-sized slabs in which about 20 species of pitch are incorporated. The value of this collection is mainly historical.

In addition to its scientific value, the specimen of Sparnodus vulgaris has a historical value as it is linked to the arrival of Maria Luigia in Parma in 1816 as reported on the back of the plate. br>

Sparnodus elongatusSistema Museale Università di Parma

The gesture of donating it to the Natural History Cabinet of the University of Parma shortly after her arrival in Parma, testifies how Maria Luigia was aware of the great scientific value of these extraordinary specimens, unique in variety and state of conservation, which, already at the end of the eighteenth century, they had conquered scientists, scholars, popes and men of government.

Chanoides macropomaSistema Museale Università di Parma

It is not certain whether the entire collection of Bolca fish was the subject of the same donation but it was certainly included as a "special collection" among the paleontological collections of the Cabinet of Natural History of the Royal University of Parma and was included among "the greatest increases" of the Cabinet related to donations from the Duchess herself or to purchases supported by her government (Strobel, 1884).

Giovanni Serafino VoltaSistema Museale Università di Parma

The oldest reference to the fossils of Bolca is contained in the Commentaries of the Sienese physician and botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli in which the author, after a visit to Bolca in 1554, wrote «... some stone slabs brought from the Veronese in which ( in the middle) there were carved different species of fish with each particle conversing in stone ... .

The oldest reference to the fossils of Bolca is contained in the Commentaries of the Sienese physician and botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli in which the author, after a visit to Bolca in 1554, wrote «... some stone slabs brought from the Veronese in which ( in the middle) there were carved different species of fish with each particle conversing in stone...».

Pygaeus bolcanusSistema Museale Università di Parma

The beauty of the fossils in the Gazola collection, as evidenced by the tables of Volta, contributed to the fame of the deposit, so much so that it was requisitioned almost entirely at the end of the eighteenth century by Napoleon and brought to the Museum National d'Historie Naturelle in Paris, where it is still today. br>

The worldwide prestige of the site was achieved thanks to the systematic studies on the fossils of the Parisian collection carried out by famous paleontologists such as Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville and Louis Agassiz.

The original tags bearing the specific name and place of origin are still preserved on the fossil-bearing slabs of the Museum's finds. On the back of the slabs, you can read the classification assigned by the Mantuan paleontologist Volta and the common names that fishermen used for the closest living species.

Pseudauxides speciosus, From the collection of: Sistema Museale Università di Parma
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Berybolcensis leptacanthus, From the collection of: Sistema Museale Università di Parma
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Chanoides macropoma, From the collection of: Sistema Museale Università di Parma
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Chanoides macropoma, From the collection of: Sistema Museale Università di Parma
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Bibliography 


971 Bussini L. The Eocene Fishes of Bolca preserved in the Paleontological Museum of Parma 1541-1542 Mattioli A. speeches by M. Pietro Andrea Matthioli from Sanese, doctor Caesarean, and of the Most Serene Prince Ferdinand Archduke of Austria & amp; c. in the six books of Pedacio Discoride Anazarbeo of the medicinal matter In Venetia. (translation of Dioscorides' De Materia Medica from the Greek). 1796-1808 Volta G.S. "Veronese Ichthyology" - Giuliari, Verona

1835 Agassiz L. Revue critique des poissons fossiles figures dans l'ichthyology of Verona. Recherchessur les poisons fossils. Vol.IV, pp.1-44.
1884 Strobel P. The Natural History Cabinet of the Royal University of Parma.
2000 Vecchiato F. Verona, the Austrian capital.
2013 Baraldi F. Giovanni Serafino Volta, chemist, mineralogist and paleontologist from Mantua (Mantua, 1754-1842). Virgilian National Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, Acts and Memories, New Series, Vol. LXXXI

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