Die paläontologische Sammlung von Georg Gasser

Alexander Wagensommer, Irene Tomelleri, Benno Baumgarten, Evelyn Kustatscher

The Museum of Nature South Tyrol in Bolzano/Bozen houses a historical fossil collection, compiled at the turn of the 19th and 20th century by Georg Gasser (1857–1931), a self-taught naturalist best known as an expert on minerals from the alpine region. A review of all available historical data on Georg Gasser, including his collection catalogues, his library, his own publications and private notes, reveals that while minerals were indeed Gasser’s primary interest, he also developed a keen interest in zoology and paleontology, which he apparently regarded as strictly connected fields of science. While Gasser’s mineralogical collection fulfilled the requirements of a modern research collection, his zoological and paleontological collections were rather suitable for public display, i.e. for attracting visitors and teach them about the history of life on Earth. In this sense, they can be viewed as didactic collections. While the zoological collection consisted of specimens from all around the world, the fossil collection comes largely from areas that in Gasser’s days – i.e. around 1900 – belonged either to Germany or to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some 25 % of his fossils come from Tyrol. While there are no specimens of particular scientific value, this local collection is in itself an interesting document about fossil bearing localities in Tyrol at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

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