Welcome to the Iziko Langebaanweg ‘E’ Quarry Mammal Collection searchable database
The Langebaanweg ‘E’ Quarry Collection, which forms the core of the Cenozoic Collection at Iziko South African Museum, comprises an extremely rich and diverse early Pliocene (5 Ma) sample. Almost all mammal Orders are represented although much of the material is yet to be studied systematically.
Last year saw the 50th anniversary of the beginning of palaeontological investigations at Langebaanweg ‘E’ Quarry on the west coast of South Africa with the visit of Drs R. Singer, A.M. Compton and D.A. Hooijer to the mine. However, only in 1965, when mining operations were expanded, did the full palaeontological potential of ‘E’ Quarry become obvious. This discovery led to the formation of the Langebaanweg Research Project, under the leadership of Dr Q.B. Hendey, by the then South African Museum (now incorporated into Iziko Museums of Cape Town) in 1968. After Brett Hendey left the Museum there was a gap in field work at the site until Museum research projects were renewed first by Prof. A. Chinsamy-Turan and then by Dr R.M.H. Smith. The current Curator of the Langebaanweg Collection, Dr D. Stynder, is the latest in the line of Museum palaeontologists to excavate at the site.
Fossils first came to light at Langebaanweg during phosphate mining operations by the African Metals Corporation. Subsequent recovery and preservation of the fossils were made possible through the co-operation of several generations of mine owners. After mining operations ceased in 1993 a 14-ha fossil-rich area within the mine property was declared a National Heritage Site and the West Coast Fossil Park project began as a joint undertaking between the South African Museum and mine owners SAMANCOR (with majority shareholders BHP Billiton). The West Coast Fossil Park was launched in 1998 and today is operated by a Trust established in 2005, with generous financial support from the mining house.
From 2004 to 2009 the Research into Human Origins Initiative (RHOI), under Prof. T.D. White and the late Prof. F.C. Howell, supported the Langebaanweg Re-Curation Project, which has been directed by Dr D.M. Avery, previous Curator of the Langebaanweg Collection. The main aim was to develop a computer catalogue of the original collections and an accompanying website but the project also included an audit and re-organization of the Collection. Development of this site as a searchable database of the main Langebaanweg Mammal Collection, which is housed at Iziko South African Museum is a product of the RHOI Langebaanweg Project. The database presently includes all the most important specimens and most other accessioned material. Photographs of the main specimens will be added as they become available.
Notice to visiting researchers
We see the upkeep and improvement of this database as a collaborative process that involves expert visitors as well as the Museum’s curation staff. For this reason, we ask our visitors to provide any updates to identifications they may make and to provide copies of published reports referring to material in the Langebaanweg Collection. We also appeal to researchers to deposit copies of digital photographs taken during their work on the collection. The photographs will, of course, be suitably acknowledged when used on this website.
Please use the fields on the search page to find records.