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Anatomic Collection


During the year 1750, the firs anatomical theatre was founded and an anatomical collection was established inside the main building of the university. The history of the institute of anatomy of Greifswald begins with this event. The founder of the collection, Andreas Westphal (1685-1747), gathered all available preparations in a single catalogue for the first time in 1760. Most of the preparations originally came from the purchase of the collection left behind by August Scharschmidt (1720-1791) in Berlin. At this time, there were no zoological preparations available yet. The creation of the comparative anatomy collection goes back to Christian Rosenthal (1780-1829). From 1808 to 1810, he was already a private lecturer for anatomy in Greifswald. When he came back from Berlin as a professor in ordinary in 1820, he began to compose the collection of compared anatomy, during which he particularly considered sea animals, especially the whales living in the Eastern Sea. A new anatomy building had to be erected due to the growing numbers of students and the purchase of the Braunschweiger collection of prosector Berger. In 1855, the construction work on the new institute on the ground of the former Dominican abbey was completed. Only three large rooms were available for the collections, where even the 16 meter long wale skeleton arranged by Rosenthal was entitled to a place. Another construction related transformation of the collection was completed in 1955 under the director of the institute Richard N. Wegner. To allow the numerous medicine students to study the macroscopic and microscopic preparations in good conditions, it became necessary to rebuild the institute. During the process, the building was enlarged by a whole new upper floor. Countless new educational preparations, acquired during scientific travels or the purchase of dead animals from zoological gardens were stored inside the new facilities with the original collection. This made the collection grow to reach its present size of around 2500 items.

The collection of comparative anatomy of the Greifswald Institute mainly contains osteologic (osseous) preparations, among which a lot of skulls and complete skeletons. Preparations concerning every type of vertebrate are collected and were systematically sorted, i.e. fish, reptile and bird skeletons. Besides large elephant, camel and ostrich skeletons, one can admire quite small bones too. In one part of the collection, skulls are sorted according to the type of dentition. The poor-teethed animals for example are represented by the armadillos and anteaters from South America. Skulls of the squirrel and the nutria show the dentition of rodents. Impressive fangs of polar bears or lions, representing predators can also be admired. A particularly interesting item is a 4 meter long skeleton of a python. This not entirely full-grown python was a gift from a former student and reached the Greifswald Anatomy in 1856.

50 years ago, the scientists have concentrated intensely on certain areas of comparative anatomy. Single bones and skeletons were also presented to students in teaching events. Nowadays, the skulls of Great Apes are quite important for further studies, during which scientists study the functional morphology of the inner skull structures, i.e. the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses. One purpose of this is, among others, to analyse the relation between the paranasal sinuses and the architecture of the skull regarding growth and adaptation. The results are interesting for the purpose of understanding clinically ostentatious variations and allow a peek into the evolution of the human skull through the inclusion of corresponding data about recent and fossilised primates.
Contact / Sightseeing possibilities
Mitarbeiter / Kustos

Prof. Dr. Thomas Koppe
North Tel.: +49 (0)3834 / 86 53 18

Besichtigung nach tel. Absprache bei:
Arlette Deutsch
Telefon: +49 (0)3834 / 86-5308

Friedrich-Loeffler-Str. 23c
17487 Greifswald
Fax: +49 (0)3834 / 86 53 02

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Anatomische Sammlung