The beginnings of the collection date back to the early 18th century. An important part (about 10,000 specimens) was bought from Constantin von Ettingshausen in 1879. These specimens formed the base of the first palaeobotanical exhibition at the Museum of Natural History. Since then the collection has been increased by excavations, donations, exchange as well as by purchases. It now comprises fossil plant material from all periods. Key areas are the Carboniferous of Bohemia, the Triassic of Austria, and the Late Cretaceous and Neogene of Central Europe. Many famous and formerly rich sites documented here are not accessible anymore, underpinning the scientific value of the collection.
The palaeobotanical collection contains type material of numerous publications. The types (> 8,200 specimens) are included in OeTyp, a database of palaeontological types in Austrian collections, accessible to the public via the WWW.
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