Earth Science

The Department includes Palaeontology, Mineralogy, Petrology, Economic Geology, Stratigraphy and a small collection of meteorites.

The Palaeontology collection, one of the oldest in South Africa, began in the mid 19th century by two pioneers of the Museum, Andrew Geddes Bain and William Guybon Atherstone. The collections were expanded by Professor EHL Schwartz, the first "Keeper of Mineralogy", and then by a succession of honorary curators such as Professor ED Mountain and Dr J Rennie, both based at Rhodes University until the 1970s. Dr WJ (Billy) de Klerk was appointed as the first full-time geologist at the Museum in 1985, and he recently retired after more than 30 years of service. Dr Rose Prevec has since taken over as head of department and curator of the collections. The Palaeontological collection consists largely of South African material with a good coverage of vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and trace fossils, of varying age. Of interest is the recent addition of collections of Permian plant fossils from the Eastern Cape and beyond, contributed by Dr Prevec and colleagues, and the new collections of Devonian fishes, plants and invertebrates collected from a site on the edge of town by research associate Dr Robert Gess. The collection also includes mammal-like reptiles, fishes and plants from the Permian and Triassic beds of the Karoo, and plants and animals of Cretaceous age from the Algoa and associated Mesozoic basins. The latter include exciting dinosaur discoveries made by Dr de Klerk and colleagues, such as the first dinosaur to receive a Xhosa name, Qwebasaurus thwasii (aka 'Kirky', after the town of Kirkwood).

In 2004, the palaeontology gallery was opened, and it remains a popular and informative attraction at the Albany Museum. The gallery displays life through the ages, as documented by our rich Eastern Cape fossil heritage.