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Invertebrate Collection

Our collections mostly contain specimens of the regional fauna, but also globally collected species from a variety of invertebrate groups.


The coral collection already consisted of about 200 objects in the 19th century and was not only scientifically reappraised by Dietrich H. H. Kühlmann, but also supplemented by pieces from his own collection, so that about 1,000 stony corals from the Pacific and Atlantic form a collection (including type material). The material also contains coordinates of exact localities. Among the material are also paratypes of Kühlmann's stony coral Stylophora kuehlmanni and Stylophora mamillata, which Kühlmann discovered in the Red Sea and which were later described by Georg Scheer and Gopinadha Pillai. In addition, the collection also contains more than 20 first records for the Red Sea. In total, the museum's stony coral collection contains 271 species as well as unspecified horn corals, mainly from the 18th century.

Arthropods make up the largest part of the collection in terms of number of species and individuals, with insects accounting for about 95 %. Types are available for butterflies, hymenopterans and animal lice. A large number of insect orders from different faunal regions are included, especially Odonata, Blattoptera, Orthoptera, Phthiraptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Heteroptera, Coleoptera, Neuroptera, Hymenoptera, Trichoptera, Lepidoptera, Siphonaptera and Diptera. The oldest preserved insect specimens include larvae and imagines of about 200 native butterflies, which were acquired around 1870 by the natural history dealer Ramann from Arnstadt.

The dragonfly collection, comprising a total of 47 native species with around 650 individuals, in addition to material from old stock and exotic specimens, contains species that are rare for Thuringia or have already disappeared. In addition, no other German museum has such an extensive collection of prepared animal lice, with the focus on feather lice. They were collected in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The collection, compiled by Dr. Eberhard Mey over many years of research, is currently on permanent loan to the Central Magazine of Natural Science Collections in Halle (Saale) for scientific research.

Helmut Steuer's collection of native butterflies is also significant. His research, based on the evidence of his collections, resulted in the documentation of 2,277 butterfly species in the area around Bad Blankenburg. 895 species in 14,616 individuals are listed in his collection, which is housed at the museum and was given to it as a gift in 1994. In 2006, the donation of a collection of over 500 small butterfly species by Hans-Helmut Brainich enriched this evidence of the regional lepidopteran fauna. The butterfly collection also includes a type specimen of Papilio weiskei, collected in 1899 on the Aroa River in British New Guinea.

For beetles, the collection of the priest August Ludwig Gutheil from Dörnfeld near Königsee, which was acquired for the Natural History Cabinet in 1888, should be mentioned. It consists of about 12,000 Thuringian species in approximately 15,000 specimens. The Brainich beetle collection contains about 500 species from various families for the region of the lower Schwarzatal. Types exist for two weevil species from New Guinea and a leaf horned beetle from Queensland/Australia - Gymnopholus weiskei, Aroaphila cyphothorax and Saulostomus weiskei.

Hymenopterans are highlighted by the collection of Otto Schmiedeknecht, who held the office of curator of the Natural History Cabinet for some time. In 1919, the museum acquired his hymenopteran collection, which consists mainly of ichneumon wasps. It amounts to 2,200 species in 6,500 specimens with the earliest date of collection in 1875. The collection also includes numerous types of species that Schmiedeknecht described between 1878 and 1924.

Snails and mussels make up about 40,000 specimens, which include marine as well as terrestrial and freshwater molluscs. The collection originated, among other things, from several purchased individual collections, for example from Johann Richter from Leipzig in 1788, from Heinrich Carl Küster (Bamberg) 1860 or from the Rudolstadt pharmacist Carl Dufft 1897. It contains scientifically valuable and (undiscovered!) type material

Also of historical interest are some marine snails that were collected during James Cook's first voyage to the South Seas from 1768 to 1771 and reached Rudolstadt via the natural products trade from London. It is still unclear whether the three land snail species collected by Emil Weiske in British New Guinea are type specimens.