A little exhibition about this museum’s role in charting the Earth’s plant and animal life — the path to current knowledge of the planet.
As early as several centuries ago, explorers set out to discover the known world. They collected research material — plant and animal specimens, minerals and tissue samples — that are still kept in museums of natural history around the world.
Now the Earth’s geography is well known. But nature continues to be surveyed because it is estimated that only a small portion of all the species on Earth are known — perhaps as little as ten per cent.
Together with colleagues from other countries, scientists from this museum go on research expeditions both near and far. The museum collections are constantly growing, are loaned out to other museums, and are visited every year by hundreds of scientists from other countries. The collections are part of humanity’s common heritage.
Among the discoveries made during the Antartica Expedition 1901 were the fossil remains of extinct giant penguins that lived 40 million years ago.
Most early explorers were men, and they became heroes of their times. They studied plants and animals, collected fossils and took measurements of the harsh climate.
Over 100 years later, the museum continues to collect research material in the polar regions — but under safer conditions and with many women among the researchers. There are both major expeditions requiring large icebreakers and smaller efforts with few participants. .
Most of the world’s plant and animal species live in tropical areas. Many are still unknown to science and are seriously endangered by deforestation and other threats to habitats.
Scientists all over the world are collaborating to collect specimens of tropical plants and animals which are kept in museums where they are studied and scientifically described. The collections are also used within various fields of research, including the determination of relationships between species.