By Senckenberg Nature Museum Frankfurt
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
Follow us on a digital tour through the Senckenberg Nature Museum Frankfurt.
Exploration of the earth systems diversity
Not only is the Frankfurt Nature Museum an exciting place of learning for its visitors, it is also part of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Senckenberg Natural Research Society), one of the most important institutions involved in the exploration of life’s variety – i.e., biodiversity. More than 300 scientists are actively working in ten locations across Germany as well as in numerous international projects around the globe. They explore animals, plants and geology, study ecosystems and the effects of climate change, and are ultimately trying to discover how we can use the Earth as our habitat without destroying it in the process. To this end, they collect and identify animals and plants in the course of classic field work and later study the specimens in the laboratory, using modern technologies. On the basis of the measuring data, final insights can be reached and it is even possible to make predictions regarding the future development of the earth system.
The collections of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung can look back on a history of more than 400 years and now include over 38 million objects, counting among the largest and oldest collections in the world. Therefore, they are exceptionally well suited for documenting zoological, botanical and geologic developments. The collections not only offer interesting objects for exhibitions but also form an indispensable basis for research activities.
Frankfurt Nature Museum
In addition to presenting its own research activities and covering natural science topics, the Frankfurt Nature Museum also addresses cultural and social issues regarding our environment. Varied photographic exhibitions, multi-media installations and numerous original exhibits are supplemented by a broad museum-educational program, which lends a voice to the exhibitions and brings the research results of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung closer to the public, thereby creating a “science for everyone.”
Anaconda - crowd favourite
Along with the Reticulated Python, the Giant Anaconda counts among the world’s largest snakes and can reach an overall length of more than nine meters. Our Anaconda is in the process of devouring a Capybara, the world’s largest rodent. Following such a meal, the snake is able to survive for months without food. Found in the rainforests of tropical South America, the Anaconda’s lifestyle is closely tied to aquatic habitats. Its prey encompasses fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Anacondas are ovoviviparous and after a gestation period of seven to eight months, the female gives birth to 15 to 70 young, which are 60 to 80 centimeters long when born.
Diplodocus - length record
With a length of up to 28 meters, Diplodocus is the longest among all of the dinosaurs that have been found as complete specimens. Its neck and tail were longer than those of other long-necked types, such as Brachiosaurus, for example. Despite its enormous size, Diplodocus only weighed about ten tons, thanks to its air-filled vertebrae. The Diplodocus skeleton in the Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt is the only original skeleton of this dinosaur species on display anywhere outside of the USA.
Dodo - extinct giant pigeon
The Dodo, a flightless relative of the pigeons and doves, once inhabited the island of Mauritius east of Madagascar before it became extinct near the end of the 17th century. The Dodo had tiny wings and its sternum – the attachment site for the strong wing muscles of flying birds – was correspondingly small. The massive birds could reach a body weight of more than 20 kilograms.
the dinosaur mummie
The virtually complete original skeleton of the Edmontosaurus in the Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt counts among the most important dinosaur fossils in the world. In this specimen, even the structure of the skin has been preserved as a fossilized imprint. Worldwide, there are only two Edmontosaurus specimen that show this high level of preservation. The animal’s apparently cramped posture suggests that this dinosaur had already been mummified before the body was covered by sandy sediments. This allowed the hardened skin to imprint in the sediment and be preserved as a fossilized impression.
Finback - giant of the sea
Next to the Blue Whale, the Fin Whale is the second-largest animal in existence today. The skeleton displayed in the Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt is 22 meters long. The outline of the body on the wall gives an impression of the animal’s enormous size. The mouth is so big that it comfortably holds a small group of visitors. In living animals, the roof of the mouth bears long lamellate bristles, the so-called baleen. The whales use these plates to filter their food from the ocean, which consists primarily of tiny crustaceans known as krill.
Triceratops - horned dinosaur
The three-horned dinosaur Triceratops is one of the most widely known exhibits in the Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt. Triceratops was a plant eater that could reach a length of up to nine meters. It occurred in present-day North America. The horns and the large neck plate (or frill) likely served as defensive structures. The skull was connected to the neck vertebrae by means of a ball-and-socket joint. This rendered the head highly mobile and the horns could strike out in all directions.
Prehistoric horse - miniature horse from hesse
Some of the most famous discoveries from the Messel Pit are the fossil remains of prehistoric horses. More than 60 skeletons of stallions, foals and mares have been found, with some of the mares even being pregnant. The discovery of fetuses in the mares’ wombs is of particular interest, since it opens a window into the evolution of the reproductive system in mammals. The oldest and best preserved utero-placenta shows that the reproductive apparatus of the prehistoric mare does not differ from that of modern-day female horses, despite about 50 million years of evolution. Its development had already reached the present state at that time. The prehistoric horses only grew to a height of 35 to 60 centimeters (at the shoulder) and weighed no more than 5 to 6.6 kilograms. The shape of their teeth and the stomach contents that were found indicate a diet of leaves and fruits.
Placodus gigas - marine reptile broken to gravel
The skeleton of the plate-toothed Placodus gigas represents the only skeleton of this marine reptile anywhere in the world. Its torso was reinforced by closely arranged ribs and gastralia (“ventral ribs”) as well as a series of round ossifications of the skin above the vertebral processes. Therefore, these marine predators could only use their legs for propulsion. In 1915, a fossil collector found skeletal remnants in a quarry near Heidelberg inside already broken-up gravel stones. All of the pieces that could be located were put together, and over a period of several years, the skeletal remains were painstakingly extracted from the hard rock and assembled into an entire skeleton.
Quagga - comeback of an extinct Zebra
The Quagga, a subspecies of the Common Zebra, became extinct in the late 19th century. In the past few years, there have been efforts to unravel the genetic code of these animals and to “recreate” the Quagga through back-crossing with zebras. The specimen on display at the Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt has been part of the collection since 1830. It is one of the best-preserved Quaggas among only 23 fully mounted specimens worldwide.
Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung