Portrait of author

Kasper Lykke Hansen:
From the Shadows out of Time

Date: 31-01-2019    Supervisor: Tom Gilbert & Morten Melgaard

A comparison and assessment of the fossil collections of P.W. Lund and V. Lausen based on historical archives and bone analysis. Additionally, thoughts and guidelines about future avenues for their usage are proposed.

Two large South American subfossil vertebrate collections are housed in the Natural History Museum of Denmark, the P.W. Lund Collection and the V. Lausen Collection. Both were collected in the 19th century. Today they are kept in a storage facility and are very rarely accessed or studied. Many other European natural history museums keep similar collections. By examining the personal histories behind the collectors as well as reviewing and comparing the two collections, suggestions for their future use are proposed. Data has been collected from museum archives, letters, interviews and newspapers. Fossil material has been identified through morphological analysis.

Both collections show a potential for deeper scientific investigations. The V. Lausen Collection with three virtually undescribed type specimens and the possibility of sampling petrosal bones from large extinct mammals for ancientDNA studies. The P.W. Lund Collection with many subfossil bones and breccias remaining unidentified. This thesis also reveals that the biography of V. Lausen gives new insight into how a philanthropically inclined man of the 19th century purchases and donates fossils. Furthermore, when exhibited together, these two historical collections have complemented each other in such a way, that they apparently enhance the sum experience of the viewer.

Revisiting old museum collections and reconstructing the stories that surround them may be a valuable endeavour. The P.W. Lund Collection and the V. Lausen Collection should not be forgotten in a storage facility as they hold great promises within several different fields of scientific research and for new museum exhibitions. This work may find use as a guide or tool for future curators and students of these and similar collections around the world.