Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe

Geology and Paleontology in Zimbabwe

Geology – Comes from the Greek “gê” meaning earth and is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change.

Palaeontology – Is the study of prehistoric life. The term itself originates from the Greek “palaios” meaning old or ancient and “ont”, meaning creature.

Geology and Paleontology
Syntarsus rhodesiensis, a Triassic dinosaur from Zimbabwe

When this museum in Bulawayo was started in 1901 its focus was primarily economic geology. Its first curator was a Geologist, F.P. Mennell (see past curators).

His scientific contribution to the understanding of the nation’s geology was outstanding.

He produced the first geological map of the south-western part of the territory, the Rhodesian Minerals Book and the Mineral Wealth of Rhodesia.

Subsequent curators have continued this work.

Geology in Zimbabwe

Mike Zondo
Mike Zondo

The size and scope of the geology collection is impressive. It contains over 15 000 rock samples and reference to it has played an important part in the economic development of the country.

Quartz DisplayIt is one of the best and most comprehensive collections in Africa containing the Broken Hill (Zambia) rare lead/zinc minerals and crystals and the Globe and Phoenix (Zimbabwe) Kermesite specimens.

The displays in the geology gallery, called the Mennell Gallery, showcase a small part of this collection – in particular various gem, crystal and rock samples. 

The walk through mine in the gallery is one of the key attractions to visitors to the museum, recreating the sights of an actual gold mine as are so common across central Zimbabwe. 

Along the one side of the mine are ten displays of the economically important minerals of Zimbabwe.

Mining in Zimbabwe

Palaeontology in Zimbabwe

The Palaeontological collection is of international importance although more recent than the geology collection being started in 1941. 

Zimbabwe is rich in dinosaur fossils with some very recent and exciting discoveries. Research with Virginia Tech, USA and Witwatersrand University, South Africa is ongoing.

Dinosaurs In Zimbabwe

The collection has over 2500 specimens including plant fossils, various dinosaurs (Sauropodomorpha and theropods) as well as early mammals, fish and other invertebrates. It also includes casts of 14 footprints of a large bipedal dinosaur found in a river bed in the Chewore Safari Area.

Zimbabwe’s fossil record is presented to the public in the Mennell Gallery where its unique dinosaur fauna form centre stage. 

This includes displays on Coelophysis, Massospondyls, and Vulcanodon and the collection houses the type for Coelophysis  rhodesiensis, Vulcanodon karibaensis and a Dande Sauropodomorph.

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258 reviews on
David Reason
David Reason
26/01/2021
This is a fabulous treasure for Zimbabwe with around 7 separate galleries of very well presented exhibits such as geology, entomology, herpetology, African mammals, colonial history, local African tribes, astronomy, humankind and mycology (fungi). It also houses hundreds of thousands of specimens in around 10 Collections, including arachnids, Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), birds, snakes, plants and fungi - these Collections can be seen but by appointment only. The museum staff are pleasant and knowledgeable. There is an onsite café to pick up a snack or two and a public library of really interesting natural history books. There is also good info on the two World Heritage sites managed by the museum, these being the Matobo World View site and the Khami Ruins which are also magical places to go and visit!
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Angel Bert
Angel Bert
05/12/2020
It was lovely experience
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Fritz Madida
Fritz Madida
03/12/2020
Most fascinating collection of historical artefacrs
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CLIVE SIBANDA J
CLIVE SIBANDA J
26/11/2020
Thank you for the important information
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Thabo Pricel
Thabo Pricel
22/11/2020
Amaze balls
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Nkosinathi Mdudo
Nkosinathi Mdudo
07/11/2020
Such an amazing experience
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