Birds in the vertebrate collection
1. Birds

The bird collection is made up of around 82,000 specimens. It includes a significant collection of skeletons and eggs as well as type material for 92 species. It is one of the institute's oldest collections and for much of the historical material, including the tropical birds, we owe our thanks to ornithologist Bernard du Bus de Gisignies, the first director of the Museum of Natural Sciences in 1848. Alphonse Dubois, who was appointed curator of the vertebrate collections in 1869, was the first to describe many of De Gisignies’ specimens. In the 1930s Zoologist René Verheyen added a great deal of material to the ornithological collections and in particular, an exceptionally large collection of Belgian and Central African fauna.


Fish species in the wet collection.
2. Fish

The fish collection consists of more than 285,000 specimens. Oceanographer Gustave Gilson (director of the RBINS in 1909) started the collection during his study of the North Sea. It was the very first study of marine fauna in Belgium. We have type material for 325 species. Central African fish species are well represented thanks to our expeditions to the national parks in Congo. Missions by His Majesty Leopold III and RBINS biologist Jean-Pierre Gosse have also yielded many South American species.


Frogs in the vertebrate collection
3. Amphibians

The amphibian collection contains more than 135,000 specimens. We have type material for 109 species. The majority of the specimens were collected by herpetologist Gaston François de Witte on his missions to the national parks in Congo (between 1933 and 1958). On many more recent missions over the years herpetologist Philippe Kok has amassed a beautiful and valuable collection of amphibians, containing species from Guyana (South America).


Snake in the vertebrate collection
4. Reptiles

We have about 45,000 reptilian specimens, and type material for 183 species. The majority of the specimens were collected by Gaston François de Witte during his missions to the national parks in Congo. Philippe Kik has also put together a fine collection of reptiles from Guyana. Biologist Olivier Pauwels has added material to the South East Asia and Gabon collections, and his colleagues Benoit Mys, J. Swerts and Jan Hulselmans have contributed a significant collection of reptile species from Papua New Guinea.


5. Mammals

The mammal collection contains 42,000 specimens and includes significant osteological material (bones and skeletons). The best represented groups are bats, rodents, carnivores and primates. We have type material for 27 species. The rodent collection was extended by RBINS biologist Xavier Misonne. Walter Verheyen built up the collection of fauna from Belgium and Papua New Guinea, and Jacques Verschuren put together a large collection of mammal specimens from Africa.

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