Geology and Palaeontology collections





Conservation of the “Monteviale” Mammals Collection
Conservation work was carried out on the museum’s collection of mammal fossils discovered in the Oligocene Lignite deposits of Monteviale in the Province of Vicenza.
This is a collection of great historical and scientific importance, since it provides a record of a fauna that is unlike any other in Europe and constitutes a vital resource in understanding the paleoclimatic situation at a key moment in the history of life, the transition from the Eocene to the Oligocene. A portion of the finds were unearthed and studied during the second half of the nineteenth century by Achille de Zigno, while further important specimens were added to the collection in the 1930s by Giorgio and Giambattista Dal Piaz.
The conservation work was successful in slowing the deterioration caused by iron sulphides in the rock matrix, and in removing layers of old varnish, which may have been applied for protective purposes or to improve the appearance of the specimens in photographs. Following the conservation process, the fossils were returned as close as possible to their original appearance, both to allow them to be studied further by specialists, and to encourage greater appreciation and understanding among the wider public.



11 June 2016 - 04 June 2017
Collaboration PESCI? NO GRAZIE, SIAMO MAMMIFERI! Piccola storia naturale dei Cetacei (“FISH? NO THANKS, WE’RE MAMMALS! A short natural history of cetaceans”)
Museum of Natural History, Ferrara
From 11 June 2016 to 4 June 2017 the Museum of Natural History in Ferrara was home to a themed exhibition on the evolution and unique characteristics of cetaceans, a group of marine mammals that has always held a particular fascination for humans.
For the exhibition, the Museum of Geology and Palaeontology loaned two specimens from its collection of Miocene Cetacean fossils from the Province of Belluno.


16 July 2016 - 27 June 2017
Collaboration Estinzioni. Opportunità o catastrofe? (“Extinction: Opportunity or Catastrophe?”)
MuSe Science Museum in Trento
Between 16 July 2016 and 27 June 2017, the MuSe science museum in Trento was home to an exhibition that explored the subject of extinction, covering extinction events from the distant geological past to the present day. The exhibition presented humans as both the author of the extinction of other species and, given the massive, and rapid changes affecting our environment on a global scale, a species at risk of extinction itself.
The Museum of Geology and Palaeontology contributed to the exhibition, loaning the organisers an African elephant tooth from its historic collections.




Research on Tridentinosaurus antiquus
The Museum of Geology and Palaeontology possesses a specimen of Tridentinosaurus antiquus. Dating from the Permian period (c. 250 million years ago), it is one of the most ancient vertebrate fossils ever to have been found in Italy. The exceptional state of conservation of the fossil has traditionally been attributed to a particular fossilisation process, carbonisation, which is relatively common among plant specimens but rare among vertebrates.
The Department of Geosciences at the University of Padova, and the MuSe science museum in Trento are preparing a cross-disciplinary research project that will analyse this priceless specimen using a variety of exploratory techniques. A variety of chemical and physical processes will be employed to (1) analyse the composition and state of conservation of soft tissues, (2) investigate the taphonomic processes to which this particular organism was subjected, and (3) establish the extent of prior conservation work carried out on the specimen.
In addition, a series of non-invasive techniques will be employed to identify the skeletal anatomy of the creature under the surface of the organism, and any fossilised soft tissue.

Project leader: Michele Lanzinger (MuSe, Trento), Cristina Stefani (Department of Geosciences)
Coordinators: Massimo Bernardi (MuSe, Trento), Mariagabriella Fornasiero (University Museums Centre)
Project team: Stuart Kearns (University of Bristol), Alessandra Lorenzetti (Department of Industrial Engineering), Federico Zorzi (Department of Geosciences)

Environmental monitoring of the “Sala delle Palme” (Hall of Palms) in the Museum of Geology and Palaeontology
In November 2015, the Department of Geosciences and the University Museums Centre finalised a two-year agreement with the National Research Council’s Institute for Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (CNR-ISAC) for microclimatic monitoring services in the “Hall of Palms” at the Museum of Geology and Palaeontology. The monitoring process, which is designed to ensure that the fossils exhibited are stored in ideal conditions, concerns the conditions in the museum rooms in general, but also the microclimate inside the display cases. Among the most noteworthy specimens affected are countless examples of palms from the Oligocene and Eocene (c. 30-40 million years ago), which were discovered and excavated for the most part in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Project leaders: Adriana Bernardi (CNR-ISAC), Cristina Stefani (Department of Geosciences), Giuliana Tomasella (University Museums Centre)
Coordinator: Adriana Bernardi (CNR-ISAC)
Project team: Francesca Becherini (CNR-ISAC), Letizia del Favero (University Museums Centre), Mariagabriella Fornasiero (University Museums Centre), Alessandro Guastoni (University Museum Centre), Fabrizio Nestola (Department of Geosciences), Federico Zorzi (Department of Geosciences)