Natural History Collections

Marine Biology

Star fish

  • Invertebrates: crustaceans, cephalopods, shelled molluscs, polychaetes (J.H. Day collection) and  hydroids
  • Vertebrates: bony and cartilaginous fish (mesopelagic fish, Prince Edward Islands, Melville Ridge, fish osteology, cartilaginous fish and skeletal element collections) and marine mammals.


  • Entomologyinsects, arachnids and myriapods
  • Terrestrial molluscs: terrestrial and freshwater species.
  • See also: Marine Invertebrates

Terrestrial Vertebrates


  • Mammals: study skins and osteological collections of mainly southern African species
  • Birds: study skins, eggs and osteological collections of mainly southern African species
  • Reptiles & Amphibians:  wet collection of mainly southern African species
  • Freshwater Fish: on loan to the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.

Cenozoic Palaeontology

Bear skull

  • Pleistocene fossils: fossil and sub-fossil terrestrial, marine and freshwater vertebrates and invertebrates including the Elandsfontein, Duinefontein, Upper Pleistocene and Taphonomy collections
  • Miocene and Pliocene fossils: includes the Langebaanweg and Miocene Whale collections.

Karoo Palaeontology


  • Late Carbonifereous fossils: palaeoniscud and acanthodian fishes from the Witteberg Group.
  • Permian to early Jurassic fossils: from the main Karoo Basin, mainly synapsids including large collections of Dinocephalia, Dicynodontia, Gorgonopsia, Therocephalia and Cynodontia with a few important pelycosaurs and biarmosuchians. Also large collections of true reptiles especially captorhinids, archosauromorphs and dinosaurs. 

The types of the basal archosauromorph Euparkeria and the primitive ornithiscian dinosaur Heterodontosaurus as well the type of its newly described sister taxon Eocursor parvus.

Recent acquisitions include a 'nest' of Youngina, and complete articulated skeletons of Pristerognathus, Diictodon, Pareiasaurus serridens, Rhachiocephalus, Odontocyclops, Lystrosaurus, Aelurognathus, Cyonosaurus,and the type of the earliest cynodont Charassognathus gracilus.

  • Amphibians and fishes from Beaufort and Stormberg groups make up the rest of the vertebrate collection
  • Permian to early Jurassic trace fossils: mainly arthropod trackways from the Lower Ecca varved shales (Early Permian) and vertebrate trackways,  burrows and coprolites from the Beaufort Group.
  • Triassic plant fossils:  Alfred “Gogga” Brown’s fossil pant collection from Mid Triassic  Molteno Formation.
  • Cretaceous and Paleocene vertebrate fossils: from crater-lake deposits in South Africa comprising numerous frog, fish and some dinosaur fossils 

Invertebrate Palaeontology


  • Cretaceous fossils: several thousand ammonite specimens
  • Cretaceous to Recent micro fossils: marine and freshwater Ostracoda, Crustacea and Foraminifera
  • Middle Devonian fossils: bivalves, brachiopods, crynoids,  trilobites and sponges
  • Permian to early Jurassic fossils: Trace Fossil Collection of mainly arthropod trackways from the Lower Ecca varved shales (Early Permian).

Rocks & Minerals


  • Rocks and minerals: some 10 000 specimens
  • Meteorites: iron and stony (chondrite) meteorites and a rare carbonaceous chondrite.


Middle Devonian fossils

A few important acanthodian fish remains from the Bokkeveld Group.

Late Carbonifereous Fossil Collection

A small but important collection of palaeoniscid and acanthodian fishes from the Witteberg Group.

Permian to early Jurassic Fossil Collection

Approximately 6500 vertebrates (including 400 type specimens), mainly synapsids that have been collected from the main Karoo Basin over the past 150 years. There are good study collections of Mid-Late Permian taxa including  Dinocephalia, Dicynodontia, Gorgonopsia, Therocephalia,  Cynodontia and Captorhinida. These include numerous fully prepared near complete skeletons of Pristerognathus, Diictodon, Pareiasaurus , Rhachiocephalus, Galesaurus and Thrinaxodon. More recent acquisitions include a 'nest' of juvenileYoungina, 2 “dwarf” pareiasaur skeletons, a complete skull of the unusual parrot-beaked dicynodont Dinanomodon, and a large collection of bone-bearing therapsid coprolites.

Over 500 accurately-provenenced vertebrate specimens collected from the Permo-Triassic boundary sequence in the Karoo Basin, as part of Roger Smith’s research project, will eventually be accessioned.

A significant collection of Mesozoic dicynodonts, archosauromorphs(including the types of Euparkeria ), dinosaurs (including the types of rare early ornithischians Heterodontosaurus and Eocurser) and numerous mammalian and non-mammalian cynodonts from the Stormberg Group.

Trace Fossil Collection

There are some 300 trace fossils, which are mainly arthropod trackways from the Lower Ecca varved shales (Early Permian) and  vertebrate tracks from the Beaufort (Late Permian) and Stormberg (Early Jurassic) groups.

The Alfred “Gogga”  Brown Fossil Plant Collection

Over 1300 plant fossils consist mostly of Early Triassic material from the Molteno Formation. Several type specimens are included.

Cretaceous/Palaeocene crater-lake fossils

Excavated from lake deposits formed in the ancient volcanic craters in Northern Cape- this collection provides a unique insight into pond life 70 million years ago. Numerous fully articulated frogs (Volcanobatrachus mandelai), and fishes (Stompooria rogersmithi), bivalves, gastropods, ostracods, insect wings, leaves, and some articulated vertebrae of an ornithopod dinosaur.