Fossil Diptera Catalog -- Web Version

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Arnett et al. (1993) gave the latest information concerning insect collections of the world. However, their listing concerns mainly collections of non-fossil forms of insects (although a few institutions holding fossils are listed). Paleoentomology requires that fossils be preserved differently than pinned, slide-mounted, or fluid preserved insects. Thus, specialized care for such types of material can best be found in paleoentomological collections. In some cases, geology and mineral collections are the depositories of fossil insect remains.

A short compilation of selected Diptera fossil collections and type depositories of workers and museums follows. It is not by any means exhaustive, but is an attempt to fill the gap in knowledge of the repositories of paleoentomological collections that have been described and studied over the years.

Major Workers (numbers of new fossil Diptera taxa described by each in square brackets):

Cockerell, Theodore Dru Allison (1862-1948) [235]
Though probably best known for his work with Hymenoptera, Cockerell is well known in paleontological circles for his numerous contributions toward the knowledge of Florissant fossils. This task was made easy due to the close proximity of the fossil beds to his workplace at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Cockerell was born in England and worked for a short time at the British Museum (Natural History) before leaving in 1891 for the Western Hemisphere where he worked in Jamaica, New Mexico, and lastly, Colorado. He was fortunate to have collected fossils from many famous fossil beds throughout the globe as well as describe them. His collecting included trips to Oeningen, Switzerland, Argentina, the Isle of Wight, and eastern Siberia. The types of his fossil Diptera are located primarily in the Department of Geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and also the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Specimens of the Florissant deposits based on collections made by Wickham are, for the most part, in the Peabody Museum, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Specimens from the Isle of Wight collected by Cockerell and specimens from the Swinhoe Collection, including Burmese amber inclusions, were presented to The Natural History Museum, London by Cockerell.

Handlirsch, Anton (1865-1935) [107]
Formally trained as a pharmacist, Handlirsch quickly opted for entomological pursuits and became assistant to Friedrich Brauer at the Naturhistorisches Museum in his hometown of Vienna. He quickly advanced up the ranks to custodian and director of the museum (the last position only for a short time). He is best known for his monumental Die Fossilen Insekten, published from 1906-1908, occupying 1,433 pages and 51 plates and his contribution of the third volume of Schröder's Handbuch der Entomologie (1920-1925), comprising 1,201 pages with 1,040 figures. The types of Handlirsch's fossil taxa are mostly in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. Others have been found in the Ernst-Moritz-Universität in Greifswald, Germany.

Heer, Oswald (1809-1883) [110]
A Swiss paleontologist, entomologist, and theologian, Heer eventually became director of the Botanical Garden in Zürich. His fossil Diptera work focused primarily on the huge Miocene Oeningen fauna of Baden, Switzerland and the Miocene deposits in Radoboj, Croatia. The collections and types of Heer are in the Eidgenossische Technishe Hochschüle-Zentrum, Zürich, the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the Badische Landessammlung für Naturkunde, in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Hennig, Willi (1913-1976) [105]
The founding father of contemporary cladistic methodology, Hennig contributed significantly to the knowledge of fossil Diptera, especially with regard to inclusions in Baltic amber. His continuous study of the evolution of the Diptera led him to review many of Rohdendorf's taxa. Hennig's (1954) work on the structure and evolution of the dipteran wing contains critiques of Rohdendorf's illustrations, which he says contain probable inaccuracies of depiction of venation. However, because Hennig did not see the actual type specimens of Rohdendorf's taxa, any final judgment of Rohdendorf's taxonomic concepts will have to await restudy of the type material. [This has been started by contemporary workers such as W. Krzeminski, and the late V.G. Kovalev.] Hennig's types of fossil Diptera were based primarily on collections of other museums. Many can be found in the Natural History Museum, London and the Zoologisk Museum, Copenhagen.

Kalugina, Nadezhda Sergeevna (1930-1992) [135]
Kalugina was primarily a fossil nematoceran dipterist (especially dealing with Chironomidae and related families) and contributed significantly to the current knowledge of the systematics and classification of fossil Diptera of the Far East and Siberia and the Jurassic and Cretaceous deposits of Central Asia. Types of her fossil taxa are in the Paleontological Institute, Academy of Sciences of Russia, Moscow.

Kovalev, Vladimir Grigoryevich (1942-1987) [139]
Kovalev worked mainly on the lower orthorrhaphous fossil Brachycera, but also did taxonomic work on the higher families of nematocerous fossil Diptera and living taxa of Empidoidea. Kovalev was one of the first taxonomists to restudy the type material of Rohdendorf, correct inaccuracies in venational illustration and interpretation, and reclassify and transfer the restudied fossil taxa to more plausible placements. Kovalev's untimely death in 1987 was a great loss to the research of fossil Diptera. His types of new taxa are deposited in the Paleontological Institute, Academy of Sciences of Russia, Moscow.

Loew, Hermann (1807-1878) [183]
Hermann Loew is best known with regard to Diptera paleontology for his work with Baltic amber inclusions. His 1850 work on the amber Diptera from the Baltic region was the major foundation for all future study on amber Diptera. Loew's personal Baltic amber collection is in the Natural History Museum, London. Species based on material in the Klebs Collection are now in Göttingen (see under Meunier). Types based on specimens from the Berendt collection are in the Paläontologisches Museum, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin.

Meunier, Fernand Anatole (1868-1926) [873]
Meunier, a Belgian entomologist who worked as curator at the Antwerpener Tiergartens, is renowned for his many articles dealing with insects in Baltic amber, especially material formerly in the Königsberg Museum in what is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Though he published most of his articles on Baltic amber insects, his paleontological work also dealt with compression fossils, including those from the Oligocene deposits in Rott. Meunier's taxonomy was not highly regarded by some, including his contemporary, Handlirsch, who wrote a scathing critique of some of Meunier's paleontological works (1906b). Types of Baltic amber material described by Meunier can be found in the Institut und Museum für Geologie und Paläontologie, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen. Other of Meunier's amber types have been found in the Dzieduszycki Museum, Lviv, Ukraine.

Rohdendorf, Boris Borisovitsch (1904-1977) [218]
Rohdendorf started his work in entomology on the extant species of the families Tachinidae, Calliphoridae, Tephritidae, Mycetophilidae, and Sarcophagidae while a curator at the Zoological Museum at the University of Moscow. He soon after started work with fossil insects, especially Diptera, eventually attaining the position of head of the Paleontological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Moscow. He was one of the most prolific workers of Russian paleoentomology and provided a tremendous amount of groundwork for future workers in the study of fossil Diptera. It is unfortunate that many of his early illustrations depicting venation of putative primitive Diptera from the Jurassic of Kirghizistan and Kazakhstan are replete with errors as has been pointed out by Hennig (1981) and others. Interpretations and identification of these fossils can only be made through a reexamination of the type material. Rohdendorf's fossil types are located in the Paleontological Institute, Academy of Sciences of Russia, Moscow.

Scudder, Samuel Hubbard (1837-1911) [147]
Scudder, entomologist, nomenclatorist and bibliographer, was the founder of American paleoentomology. He had the fortune to study the entomological material of the various post-Civil War expeditions made by the U.S. Geological Survey to the western United States and was attached for a brief time to the Survey as a paleontologist. After publishing a short note on the first finds of Tertiary insect fossils in North America made by William Denton in Colorado (Scudder, 1867) and expanding upon that note a few years later (Scudder, 1872), the foundation was laid for a plethora of contributions of the Tertiary insect fauna of the Rocky Mountains by Scudder and many others throughout the years. Best known as an entomologist specializing in extant butterflies and grasshoppers, Scudder was still able to publish 122 papers on fossil insects. Types of his fossils can be found in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.

Statz, Georg (1894-1945) [151]
Georg Statz made a significant contribution to the knowledge of fossil Diptera through his monographic works on the compression fossils of Rott, Siebengebirge, Germany. His studies reviewed the species of previous workers such as Heyden and Meunier and described a number of new taxa. Unfortunately, Statz appears not to have had a list of previously described names of Diptera when he conducted his study of the Rott fossils because he introduced a number of species-group names into the scientific literature that were preoccupied. The types and collections of Statz were transferred to his daughter soon after his death and went with her to Algiers. They were later bought by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California, where they currently reside. Sphon (1973) gave a detailed list of Statz's types in Los Angeles.

Théobald, Nicolas (1903-1981) [100]
Much the same as Statz making a name for himself by specializing in the fossil fauna of Rott, Théobald specialized in the Oligocene fauna of various deposits in central and south-central France, especially the Massif Central. Théobald conducted paleontological work on a number of different groups of animals in addition to insects and may be better known for his work with fishes. The type material of fossil Diptera of Théobald is deposited in the University of Nancy.

Major Museums:

Academy of Sciences of Russia, Paleontological Institute, Moscow
This collection houses one of the largest collections of fossils in the world. Expeditions have yielded large collections of amber from Siberia, Sakhalin Island, and Stavropol, and compression fossils from the Far East, Siberia, the Caucasus, Transbaikal, Kirghizistan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Types of Rohdendorf, Kalugina, Krzemio(n,´)ski, Blagoderov, Lukashevitch, Stackelberg, and Kovalev are deposited here.

American Museum of Natural History, New York
An important museum due to its holdings of Florissant compression fossils and recent large acquisitions of Dominican, Chiapas, and Lebanese amber. The collection also has some African copals. Types in the collection include those of Cockerell, Melander, and Grimaldi.

Beijing Natural History Museum
Contains Eocene amber inclusions from Fushun, China as well as compression fossils from Shandong, Laiyang, and Liaoning. Types of Hong and Wang are deposited here.

Canadian National Insect Collection, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa
An important collection known primarily for its large holdings of Upper Cretaceous Canadian amber. Among others, types of McAlpine, Teskey, and Gagné are deposited here.

Institut und Museum für Geologie und Paläontologie, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen
Contains some of the famous amber collection originally deposited in Königsberg. It is not known for certain how many specimens from this collection were sold to other museums or individuals when the amber pieces were seen as marketable items in the early 1900s. At some point during World War II, the Königsberg collection was moved. Other parts of it may have been confiscated by invading German troops. Some of Meunier's types based on the Königsberg collection have been recovered in Göttingen as well as some of Alexander's types of Tipuloidea. See also next entry for possible further material of the Königsberg Museum.

Museum für Naturkunde/Paläontologisches Museum, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin
Historically, these two separate collections within the University are important with regard to amber fossil inclusions and include, among others, Berendt's collection. They also contain recently collected and described inclusions of Lower Miocene Bitterfeld amber. Some material from the Klebs Collection of amber (formerly in the Königsberg Museum) is also said to be present here, which may include some type material described by Loew and/or Meunier. Types of Krzeminski and Zessin are also deposited here.

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
This collection owes its paleontological reputation to the legacy of Louis Agassiz and Hermann Hagen (the latter who had worked for a time in the famous Koenigsberg Museum before arriving at Harvard). More recently, Frank Carpenter has added tremendously to its size and significance through collection and study. One of the largest (and virtually unworked) collections of Canadian Cretaceous amber is here. There is also Baltic amber (via Hagen's donation) and some Eocene Arkansas amber. Types of Scudder, Boesel, and Hull are deposited here.

Museum of the Earth, Warsaw
Holdings include a large collection of insect inclusions in Baltic amber. See Kulicka et al., (1985), Kulicka (1993), and Kosmowska-Ceranowicz (1990) for detailed accounts of the Diptera in this collection. Types of Szadziewski and Krzeminski are deposited here.

National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Until recently, there were two separate collections: 1) the Dominican amber collection in the Department of Entomology, and 2) the paleoentomology collection in the Department of Paleobiology. The amber collection has recently been transferred to Paleobiology. The Paleobiology collection includes many types of Cockerell, Melander, and Scudder, primarily from Florissant, Colorado compression fossils. The collection of Dominican amber (Davis, 1989) is only just beginning to be studied and includes many new records of families of Diptera from this amber as well as untold new taxa awaiting description. Also deposited here in the Paleobiology collection are compression fossils from Green River and Parachute Creek. Types of silicified nodules of Palmer from the Calico Mountains of California are also deposited here.

The Natural History Museum, London [formerly British Museum (Natural History)]
The paleoentomological collections are deposited in the Department of Palaeontology. Holdings include Baltic and Burmese amber, East African copal, compression fossils of Rott, Germany, Florissant, Colorado, Böttingen, Germany, the Wealdon Formation of England, the Lérida deposits of Spain, and part of Loew's amber collection. Types of Westwood, Loew, Heyden, Jarzembowski, Melander, Whalley, and Cockerell are deposited here.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles
The paleontological collections of this museum are known primarily for their holdings of animals and plants taken from the La Brea and McKittrick tar pits. Not well known is that the Statz collection of fossils including types are also housed here. Also deposited here are silicified fossils from the Calico Mountains, Mount Frazier and Mount Pinos, California including the types of Pierce.

Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna
A very important and large collection of fossils exists in this museum. Regarding fossils of Diptera, the Paleontological section has holdings of Austrian amber as well as many of Handlirsch's types originating from various deposits throughout Europe.

Peabody Museum, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Important historical collection. The Florissant fossils collected by Wickham are here, which include some types of Cockerell. Also includes fossils from the Triassic Dan River Formation of Virginia/North Carolina. Some types of W. Krzeminski and S.E. Lewis are also deposited here.

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta
This is a little-publicized but important museum due to its large collection of Cretaceous Canadian amber. The collection is relatively new and is being curated by T. Pike. Types of B. Brown and T. Pike are deposited here.

Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt a. M.
A very historically important collection of European fossils. With regards to Diptera fossils, types of compression fossils described by C.H. Heyden and L.F. Heyden as well as material described by Möhn are deposited here.

Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart
One of the best amber collections in the world. Contains a large collection of amber insect inclusions from various parts of the world including Dominican and Lebanese amber. Smaller collections of amber from other areas are also deposited here. Some types of Hennig are deposited here.

University of California, Berkeley
The collections here are noted primarily for their large holdings of Chiapas amber from Mexico and Cretaceous Alaskan amber from the coastal regions. There are also large collections of Dominican amber. All collections contain a large number of unworked material awaiting description. Types of Cook, James, Hardy, Quate, and Scarbrough and Poinar are deposited here.

United States Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia
Contains material collected under the auspices of the U.S. Geological Survey. Included among its holdings are some types of Scudder based on material collected by the Survey on expeditions to the Rocky Mountains.

University of Colorado, Boulder
The collections here focus almost exclusively on the Florissant, Creede Caldera, and Green River compression fossils and include a great deal of undetermined material. Collections are housed in the Department of Geology and include many types of Cockerell, who was based here for many years of his professorship.

Zoologisk Museum, Copenhagen
Known in connection with fossil Diptera collections primarily for its holdings of Baltic amber inclusions, originating most likely from the Danish Baltic coasts. See Larsson (1962, 1978) for discussion of the holdings in this collection. Some amber types of Hennig are deposited here.

This page last revised 15 September 1996