When the Earth Sciences Museum is visited by students from schools in Rio de Janeiro, our mediators like to ask them where they go when they want to see animals. The answer is immediate: “To the Zoo”. And when do you want to see plants? “To the Botanical Garden


And the mediators add: “And to the Museum of Earth Sciences, to see minerals and rocks, meteorites and a great collection of fossils.” 

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Photo: Muscovite

DicynodontOriginal Source: Curadoria Museu de Ciências da Terra

Fossils are the remains or traces of living beings that lived in the past, throughout the history of life on Earth, which are preserved in rocks in the form of shells, bones, teeth, impressions, eggs, petrified feces, tracks and footprints.
Photo: Dicinodont

Pink tourmaline, with feldspar and lepidolite, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
Opal, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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The Earth Sciences Museum has a collection of minerals, the number of which make it the second or third collection of minerals in Brazil, and a large amount of fossils that allows us to say that we have the first, second and third collections. of fossils in the country.


The Earth Sciences Museum, from the Geological Service of Brazil, houses the most important collection of the country's geological and paleontological heritage, acquiring, keeping, preserving and disseminating beautiful samples of minerals, rocks and meteorites.

Photo: Agate

Illustrations of trilobitesEARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM

Its collection also includes intriguing fossil specimens of plants and animals, such as trilobites, ammonite shells and other molluscs, crocodilian skulls, dinosaur bones and eggs, silicified wood and impressions of ancient fern fronds.

Foto: Trilobita Collection

CalciteOriginal Source: Enciclopédia de Minerais, 1999 Rebo International b.v., Lisse - 1ª edição: Outubro 2000. / 2003 Dorling Kindersley Limited - Pockets Rocks & Minerals copyright 1995 - Back Packs Books - 1001 Facts about Rocks and Minerals.

The Earth Sciences Museum has a valuable documentary and iconographic collection, and instruments such as microscopes, magnifying glasses, compasses and theodolites.
Photo: Calcite

Bonefish Diplomystus humilis Eocene USA 2, Original Source: "Peixes Ósseos" em Só Biologia. Virtuous Tecnologia da Informação, 2008-2022.
Bradypus sloth, Original Source: Curadoria Museu de Ciências da Terra
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These samples, collected in the most diverse points of the national territory, include hundreds of specimens that were recognized and classified, for the first time, in Brazil. In addition to these Brazilian specimens, it also has other materials of foreign origin, including about 60 meteorites, which were acquired, in large part, through barter.


The Museum also conserves an enormous amount of historical documents related to the development of the country's geological knowledge, such as maps, field notebooks, photos, manuscripts and notes, prepared by the pioneers of Brazilian geology and paleontology.

Bulletin nº 1, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
Monograph IV of the Geological and Mineralogical Service of Brazil, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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The Museum of Earth Sciences has a library with more than 90,000 volumes, mainly dedicated to the areas of petrology, mineralogy and paleontology, as well as collections of periodicals from various geological services around the world.  This library was carefully organized under the aegis of Dolores Iglesias and Maria da Glória Tavares Price.

Louis Agassiz Medallion, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
Charles Federick Hartt Medallion, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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These collections result from the work carried out by several generations of geoscientists and collaborators who passed through the Geological Mineralogical Service of Brazil (1907-1934), the National Department of Mineral Production (1934-2017) and the Geological Service of Brazil itself - CPRM (1969)


The Museum

This entire set characterizes the Museum as the most complete and representative collection of geological research and mineral prospecting activities carried out in Brazilian territory.


Permanent exhibitions reflect the composition of the collection. In a large hall are exposed rocks, minerals and meteorites. Minerals are organized according to Dana's classification, from the simplest native elements to the most complex silicates.

Photo: Pirite

Fossil trunkOriginal Source: H. Akahane, T. Furuno, H. Miyajima, T. Yoshikawa, S. Yamamoto, Rapid wood silicification in hot spring water: an explanation of silicification of wood during the Earth’s history, Sediment. Geol. 169 (2004) 219–228. doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2004.06.003. A.L. Karowe, T.H. Jefferson, Burial of trees by eruptions of Mount St Helens, Washington:implications for the interpretation of fossil forests, Geol. Mag. 124 (2009) 191. doi:10.1017/S001675680001623X.

Mounted on antique furniture and following the model of the mineral exhibitions of other geological services and universities, whose conception dates back to the 19th century.
Photo: Fossil Trunk


This collection of minerals and rocks is considered one of the most important in the country, both in terms of the number of copies and the quality of the items in the collection.
Photo: Brazilianita

Sulfur, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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The rocks that are in furniture that spreads along the walls of the minerals hall are classified as igneous or magmatic, metamorphic, sedimentary (including pyroclastic) rocks, industrial rocks, rocks from the state of Rio de Janeiro and, to complete this exposition two cabinets with the meteorites from the collection, in the westernmost part of the hall.

Garnet, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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The petrographic exhibition is organized in such a way as to allow the visitor to understand that rocks are aggregates of minerals and that their most used classification is based on their genesis, but also on the size of the grains and on their texture and distribution in the rock. In one of its showcases, the main minerals that constitute a rock are presented – in this case, a granite with its minerals – quartz, feldspar and mica.

Stratiotosuchus maxhechti reconstruction 2EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM

The fossils are presented in two different shows. The first –  in the Time of Dinosaurs  – where pieces from the Museum’s collection are organized in a way that seeks to serve the young audience, richly illustrated and with mounted reptile skeletons.

Mosasauridae vertebraeOriginal Source: Evans M. 2010. The roles played by museums, collections and collectors in the early history of reptile palaeontology. Geol Soc, London, Spec Publ, 343:5-29 / Carroll R.L. 1988. Vertebrate / paleontology and evolution./ Makádi L., Caldwell M.W., Osi A. 2012. The first freshwater mosasauroid (Upper Cretaceous, Hungary) and a new clade of basal mosasauroids. PLoS ONE, 7: 1-16/ Rothschild B., Everhart M.J. 2015. Co-Ossification of vertebrae in mosasaurs ( Squamata, Mosasauridae); evidence of habitat interactions and susceptibility to bone disease. Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci., 118:265-275 New York: W.H. Freeman. / Pough F.H., Heiser J.B., McFarland W. 1999. A Vida dos Vertebrados. São Paulo: Atheneu. /

The collection of the Museum of Earth Sciences comprises fossils from the Permian to the Quaternary.

Photo: Mosasauridae Vertebrae


The other exhibit – Giants and Miniatures – presents the real bones of Quaternary mammals, the so-called megafauna, compared with microfossils that can only be properly observed under a microscope.

Photo: Beryl

Trilobite Triarthrus becki ventral view, Original Source: Moore 1959 (Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part O, Arthropoda 1, including Trilobitomorpha) and Whittington et al 1997 (Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology; Part O, Arthropoda 1, Trilobita, Revised, Volume I: Introduction.
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  The paleontological exhibition, called In the time of the dinosaurs, focuses on aspects of a brief moment in the history of life, the Mesozoic era in the territory we now call Brazil. It is the story of a very different world, where the seas were populated by the ammonites and by large marine lizards, the mosasaurs. The continents were united and many areas that today are many meters above sea level were submerged.

Nautiloid Cimomia pernambucensisOriginal Source: Curadoria Museu de Ciências da Terra

Later, flying reptiles appeared – the pterosaurs – such as Anhanguera and Tupandactylus which, with their five-meter wingspan, flew over the region that is now the Brazilian Northeast. The continents split.

Photo: Nautiloide Cimomia Pernambucensis

On land, the dominance of large reptiles was established, among which the crocodilians (Baurusuchus), the Cretaceous titanosaurs of the Triângulo Mineiro and the Angaturama, a large carnivore from the Chapada do Araripe, stood out.

From the Triângulo Mineiro, it is worth mentioning the exceptional occurrence of 4 fossil eggs, both herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs.

Cedrela campbeli, Pliocene Fonseca Basin, Original Source: (Gorceix, 1884; Lima & Salard-Cheboldaeff, 1981)
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Also noteworthy are the examples of plants from the Cretaceous of Araripe that already show the first angiosperms, the flowering plants, to appear on the planet. Along with plants appear arthropods, represented by crustaceans (shrimps), insects (dragonflies) and arachnids. 65 million years ago, new animals and plants appeared on the earth's surface that replaced most of the existing forms, giving way to the radiation of birds and mammals.

Attached hall that houses Price's exhibitionEARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM

The exhibition in honor of the paleontologist Llewellyn Ivor Price (1905-1980), which presents his work room and allows for an understanding, through the display of the instruments, he used

his method of work in collecting, preparing, illustrating and studying the numerous fossils he described, serves as an example of the research carried out by his colleagues in the Paleontology Section of the former Division of Geology and Mineralogy

of which stand out Paulo Erichsen de Oliveira (1911-1969), Friedrich Wilhelm Sommer (1907-1994), Elias Dolianiti (1911-1985) and Rubens da Silva Santos (1918-1996).

Hematite, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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This entire collection has a dual function. To allow scientific proof of the facts presented in articles and reports, as well as to raise awareness among those who are reached by the dissemination, through media and didactic exhibitions and publications, of the different items in our collections.

QuartzOriginal Source: Tesouros da Terra - Minerais & Pedras Preciosas - Editora Globo - Editorial Planeta S.A. - Volume I

In the rocks we also have specimens called caldasite, jacupiranguito, tinguaíto and itacolomite, for example. The identification and classification of rocks is based on genesis, structures, textures and mineralogical composition.

Photo: Quartzo


The careful examination of the rocks allows the understanding of the formation processes of the same and helps in the discovery of associated mineral deposits.
Photo: Azurite

Tourmaline in Quartz (Afrizite)EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM

Our collection of meteorites, with about sixty specimens, constitutes an important contribution to the knowledge of these space travelers that allow the understanding of the origin of our Solar System.

Photo: Turmalin in quartzo

CRATEUS 2, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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   Meteorites are the most unique objects in an Earth science museum, as they are fragments of any solid mass, larger than a molecule and smaller than an asteroid, moving through outer space, which fall onto the Earth's surface. . In other words, they are visitors to the space that we are pleased to host in our scientific collections.

GIBBEON 2, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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In addition to the unusual genesis of these 'stones' that fall from the sky, they are essential items for understanding the origin and history of planet Earth and our Solar system.

Documentation and information center, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
Images of Brazil in Derby Time, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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The Earth Science Museum has a tradition in meteorite conservation and research dating back to the early 20th century, with studies carried out by the first directors of the Geological and Mineralogical Service of Brazil. Orville A. Derby and Eusébio Paulo de Oliveira who published, in 1931, a list of meteorites from the collections of the National Museum, the Geological Service and the Escola de Minas.

BENDEGÓ 3, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
BENDEGÓ 2, From the collection of: EARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM
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The meteorite collection of the Museum of Earth Sciences has a few dozen specimens found in the national territory and foreign specimens, from countries such as Argentina, Chile, the United States, Mexico, Latvia and Ukraine, just to name a few, thanks to the exchange of our specimens with other institutions that deal with these meteoritic studies. Our largest example is the Crateús meteorite, weighing 27.5 kg, but we also have fragments from Santa Catarina and Bendegó

Mastodon tooth - Notiomastodon platensis Pleistocene MGOriginal Source: Curadoria do Museu de Ciências da Terra

Finally, in addition to these material items, which constitute ex situ conservation elements of our geological and paleontological heritage, there is a whole documentation associated with them.

Photo: Tooth Mastodont

South America by Franz FoetterleEARTH SCIENCE MUSEUM

Labels, tumble books, cards, correspondence, field notebooks, drawings and photographs constitute the associated documentation.


Not to be overlooked, too, is a good amount of old instruments and equipment that demonstrate the manner and quality of work performed for the identification and studies of all these materials.

Credits: Story

Diogenes de Almeida Campos
Coordinator of the Museum of Earth Sciences
Responsible for Curation of Collections

1 Oliveira, E.P. Meteorite collections from the National Museum, the Geological and Mineralogical Service of Brazil and the Escola de Minas. Annaes of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Rio de Janeiro, 3 (1): 33-56, 1931.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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