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Abstract

In 1908, Carl Wiman of Uppsala University, Sweden, discovered rich horizons with Triassic vertebrate remains in Spitsbergen on Svalbard, Norway. This marked the beginning of vertebrate palaeontology as a science in Sweden, subsequently developed mainly through the collection and study of non-Swedish fossil remains. Wiman’s accomplishments, resolute personality and a tight network of influential friends and supporters enabled him to become the first person in Sweden to hold a university chair in Palaeontology and Historical Geology. He also managed to amass large numbers of unique fossil vertebrate specimens culminating in an extensive Chinese collection of both world famous dinosaurs and Neogene mammals deposited at Uppsala University. Joint scientific Sino-Swedish collaboration and a deliberate Swedish scientific agenda ensured this unprecedented situation in an opportune moment. Governmental support and initiative allowed Uppsala University and Carl Wiman’s Palaeontological Institute to erect a museum building dedicated foremost to the Chinese material, now known as the Lagrelius Collection in recognition of the patron behind Wiman’s ambitious endeavours. In addition, the museum served as a permanent repository for seminal collections of Mesozoic fossils from Svalbard and North America. Collectively, these represent a landmark research and teaching resource that remains of intense scientific interest even today.

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