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Maastricht Natural History Museum

Mosasaur central


This charming little museum in a historic city is absolutely worth a visit if you have any interest in the latest Cretaceous and Mosasaurs. The city of Maastricht was founded by the ancient Romans along the Meuse (Mosa in Latin, Maas in Dutch) river. The animals we know as Mosasaurs are named after this river. The great lizard of the Meuse. Near the city are deposits of the latest Cretaceous, the Maastrichtian, which is named after the city. There are several quarries that produce a lot of fossils.

In the same procince to the north of Maastricht there is another fossil location that lends it's name to a geologic age. The tiglien, which is during the lower Pleistocene, named after Tegelen.

Part of the old roman city wall nearby.


This museum also used to house the holotype of the original Mosasaur. Mosasaurus hoffmanni. Sadly it was taken as the spoils of war by Napoleon's army. Today the holotype is located in the Paris Museum of Natural History.

So now there is only a cast of the holotype in the museum.


This small glass enclosed area in the garden houses the holotype of Prognathodon saturator which is nicknamed Bér. The specimen consists of an mostly complete skull and a partial skeleton and was found near Maastricht. There are a number of articulated thoracic vertebrae, some limb elements and some other loose elements. Along with the mosasaur skeleton there were a lot of shark teeth (Squalicorax and others) found associated with it that suggests that the carcass was scavenged by sharks and other opportunists before being covered.

I suggest viewing this on a cloudy day because the reflections on the glass can sometimes make it hard to see as well.



Though the main attractions are the Cretaceous and Pleistocene fossils. There are also a few other cool things.

An early relative of the Horseshoe Crab.


A primitive spider.


Edited by LordTrilobite
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So on to the main exhibit.

A reconstruction of a fragmentary Mosasaurus hoffmanni skeleton. Parts of the real bones are on display in cases under the skeleton.

There are also several other pieces of mosasaurs. Some Mosasaurus hoffmanni and some others from the same area.

This also includes Mosasaurus lemmonieri, Prognathodon sectorius, Prognathodon sp., Platecarpus sp. and Plioplatecarpus marshi.


A cast of the incredibly rare Globdensine mosasaur, Carinodens belgicus. It is also one of the smallest known mosasaurs. This species also appears in Morocco.


A selection of Ammonites.


In the sea deposits of the Maastrichtian there are also a few rare dinosaur bones that have been washed into the sea. Only two types have been found to date. An unidentified Theropod. And a hadrosaur of which the bones are on display here. There is also a complete reconstruction of the hadrosaur here based on the fragmentary remains and other more complete relatives. The reconstruction is largely based on the closely related basal Lambeosaurid Amurosaurus. Though much is still unknown about this Dutch hadrosaur, some of the bones were close to identical to those of Amurosaurus from the far east of Russia. At the time of the creation of the reconstruction the crest of Amurosaurus was not known so it was given a generalised crest. Now the crest of Amurosaurus is known though.

This Dutch dinosaur is named Orthomerus dolloi, though since it's only known from a few fragments it is a nomen dubium as it has no diagnostic features.

Much of Europe was under water during the Cretaceous. It consisted of an archipelago of small islands. The Netherlands was completely submerged in a shallow sea between several larger islands. Much of Spain and France formed one island, There's the Brittish Isles and there were also islands in southern Germany and Romania. Especially Spain and Romania produce a lot of Hadrosaur material.


Edited by LordTrilobite
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Along with the mosasaurs. Pretty much the whole local underwater ecosystem from the Maastrichtian is on display here.

Plant material washed into the sea such as types of Eucalyptus and Araucaria.


A partial skeleton of a bird.


Various types of fish.


The large sea turtles are also quite nice. Here is Allopleuron hoffmanni. Most likely food for the mosasaurs, especially the larger Prognathodons as they had fat bone crushing teeth.


I have not shown everything here but there are also echinoderms, belemnites, sponges, corals, brachiopods, nautiliods and even some remains of a small mammal.

On the upper floor we leave the Cretaceous behind us. There are a few samples from the K/Pg boundry here. But I don't have any pictures of it.

Early Pleistocene fossils from the Tiglien. This includes the deer from Tegelen, a giant beaver and a tapir.


Late Pleistocene fossils, such as woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis) on the bottom left, the giant deer or Irish Elk (Megaloceros giganteus) on the top left, steppe bison (Bison priscus) on the middle right and a few other smaller animals. Most of the larger specimens here are probably from the North Sea.


Around the corner there are also a number of woolly mammoth fossils.

Modern rhino foot.


Beyond this there is a rather nice stuffed animal collection. There are especially quite a few local birds. At the end in a medium sized room there is an old curiosity cabinet from a time when there were still mysteries in the world. There is also a rather nice example of a Rat King, a weird fenomenon where a circle of dead rats have their tails entangled in a kind of knot.

All in all this little museum has a really nice collection that mostly consists of local fossils. The museum is located in a beautiful historic city and if you like mosasaurs this museum is an absolute must!

Edited by LordTrilobite
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Thank you for posting the eastern version of the New Jersey Cretaceous.

That looks like a fantastic museum.

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Very nice, love these small museums and the history behind them. Thanks for sharing and definitely a place to visit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Excellent report and very refreshing. I've no excuse not to visit as I'm sure it must be easy to get there via the Eurotunnel from England. I'd also like to visit the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

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  • 7 months later...

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