Earth Collections : Palaeocene and Eocene database

The Palaeocene Epoch spanned 65.5 - 55.8 million years ago, the Eocene from 55.8 - 33.9 million years ago.

Palaeocene fossils form a relatively small proportion of the Museum's geological holdings, as following the end-Cretaceous global extinction, biotic recovery was slow, so fossils are relatively few and lack diversity.

Eocene fossils form a larger part of the Museum's holdings; this is partly because diversity had recovered from the K-T extinction event, and partly due to the accessibility of richly fossiliferous Eocene deposits in Southern England and elsewhere. In total Palaeocene and Eocene holdings number over 1,500 registered items.

The collections are dominated by invertebrates - notably gastropod and bivalve molluscs, while vertebrates are dominated by fish, though early mammals are sparsely present.

The collections are chiefly from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most important collection by far is that of Sir Charles Lyell - a Victorian pioneer of modern geology and avid collector of post-Cretaceous fossils. Other important holdings include the Reading University, Parker, and Bell collections.

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