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June 19, 2012

Palaeontology Seminar


The mammal collections from Tabun cave Israel at Natural History Museum


Miss Spyridoula Pappa, Postgraduate research student, Royal Holloway University of London.

Thursday 21st June
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2, 16:00



It is 74 years since D. Garrod & D. Bate’s publication ‘The stone of Mount Carmel’, where they first described the fossil fauna from Tabun Cave. Tabun is one of the most important caves from Mount Carmel (Israel) with the longest and most complete archaeological sequence in South-western Asia. One of the lowest layers from this sequence, Tabun E (TE), has been dated ca. 208 Ka. These layers, which were excavated by Dorothy Garrod between 1929 and 1934, revealed lower & middle Palaeolithic artefacts, hominid remains, including one almost complete Neanderthal burial, and several fossil mammal remains.


A one year project (April 2011 to March 2012) re-boxing and digitisation the specimens from Tabun Cave housed at Natural History Museum revealed that there were 7096 mammal specimens and this enabled the collection to be thoroughly reviewed and systematic work carried out. Although storage space was limited, space issues were overcome by careful organisation of the specimens within acid free boxes according to size range (Fig.1). Small and fragile specimens were nested into Plastazote for additional protection. This project not only resulted in a more accessible collection but also demonstrated that this important collection represents 29 different mammal (herbivores & carnivores) and 33 micromammal species including 15 Holotypes.


This historical collection is also significant with regards to other potential scientific projects. I will present some examples of different methods that we applied including Dama’s (prefers moist environment) and Gazella’s (prefers dry environment) teeth analyses (LEO SEM, chemical condition and 3D reconstruction) and discuss some of the results (Fig. 2, 3). This novel work will hopefully shed light on the dietary habits, morphological teeth features and the impact of climatic changes on the fauna.




For additional details on attending this or other seminars see


Collections Management Seminar

EU-COM: Development of an On-line Forum and Collections Management tool for and by European collections management staff.


Garin Cael, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium


Monday 25th June 2012,


Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington



After the SPNHC (Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections) conference in Leiden 2009 and a follow-up questionnaire, a strong need was revealed for an overarching network or forum for European natural history collection managers.
During a brainstorming meeting at the NHM, London in August 2010, it was decided that this new forum, called EU-COM, would be developed with the support of the EU projects EDIT (European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy) and SYNTHESYS (Synthesis of Systematic Resources). A draft plan and mock-up for the website were created and development started towards the end of 2010. 
The idea is to have a working Forum with a substantial amount of initial collections management content before being launched towards the end of 2012. It will serve as the primary resource for Natural History Collections in Europe, in multiple languages and will be driven by the community.
The Forum is hosted as a sub-domain to the Cybertaxonomy portal of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, but remains independent. The development and initial testing has been conducted and the portal is now ready to move into beta testing. The biggest challenge is to get initial contributions onto the site to create a solid base of content before the launch, so that users will actually recognize the usefulness of the portal and come back later if they have a different question.
Garin will demonstrate the Forum and be seeking ideas for content, content contributors and offers from people to act as testers.



The seminar is open to all members of the museum who are interested in getting involved or learning more about recovery of the collections in a disaster situation. We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest. There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes.


Science Group: All senior departmental managers & collection management staff.

Public Engagement Group:  Any staff who work with and use collections or manage staff who work with collections.

Tea and coffee will be available in the seminar room lobby area after the talk.

Suggestions for seminar speakers are always most welcome. Please contact the organiser Clare Valentine (



For additional details on attending this or other seminars see