Earth Sciences Collections
The Canadian Museum of Nature's Earth Sciences Collections have been at the museum for over 130 years. We have comprehensive collections of vertebrate fossils, fossil plants, fossil pollen, fossil fungi, minerals, rocks and gems. Within our collections of 120,000 specimens, there are over 450 primary types. Researchers and Graduate students from Canada depend on these collections to form the foundation for their research projects.
Our Vertebrate Fossil Collection contains more than 50,000 specimens, and includes a broad range of fauna from the Devonian to the Pleistocene. The following are well represented in the collection: Cretaceous reptiles, including an impressive dinosaur collection; Tertiary and Quaternary mammals; Cretaceous and Devonian fishes. Of particular note are our dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous, especially hadrosaurs and ceratopsians. The museum's Quaternary mammals, collected in northern Canada, constitute the finest and most comprehensive collection of its type.
Our Fossil Plant Collection is a small but important representation of Canadian flora, particularly from the Cretaceous and Tertiary.
The Fossil Fungi Collection of 1200 specimens is primarily a reference collection of spores mounted on slides.
Our Fossil Pollen Collection consists of 18,000 fossil pollen and spore specimens and modern reference specimens. It is the finest collection of its kind in Canada. The museum has contributed its palynology data to the database hosted in the Natural Sciences section of Artefacts Canada.
Gems, Rocks and Minerals
Our Mineral, Rock and Gem Collections contain more than 52,000 specimens, including over 60 holotypes and 170 cotypes. With the acquisition of the William Pinch collection, the museum's Canadian mineral component is the finest in the world.
The Mineral Collection is an extensive collection of minerals from Canada and from around the world, and is heavily used by the research community. The collection was enhanced with the addition of the William Pinch collection and is visited regularly by professionals and amateurs studying Canadian minerals. Contained within this collection are ca. 5000 radioactive specimens, safely housed in a specially-designed vault, and may be the finest collection of radioactives in the world.
The Rock Collection is an extensive assemblage of Canadian rocks which is used primarily as a reference source.
The Gem Collection consists of 2000 specimens and contains a wonderful collection of exhibit-quality gems. A number of these were donated by Canadians to enhance the National Collection.
Curation of a collection of specimens whose sizes range from so small they require a scanning electron microscope to view, to so large and heavy they require industrial racking for storage and forklifts to move, can be a challenge. The museum's Earth Sciences collections are stored in environmentally-controlled rooms, in either metal cabinets or on racks. A variety of specialized supports were constructed to suit each and every specimen. All storage material that will be in direct contact with the specimens is tested to ensure it will not degrade or introduce pollutants that could potentially damage the collection. These measures ensure the long-term preservation of the collection.
First Dino Mount
In 1913, we exhibited the first dinosaur skeleton to be mounted for exhibition in a Canadian museum. This 12 m-long hadrosaur (meaning 'duck-billed dinosaur'), an Edmontosaurus regalis, was discovered in 1912 by Charles Sternberg. With the help of his son, he prepared and mounted it as a panel, a method few others had yet attempted. This specimen is currently on exhibit in our museum. To this day, our collection of hadrosaur fossils remains authoritative, a must-see for those who are studying the genus.