A devastating fire in Rio de Janeiro has destroyed Brazil’s oldest and most important museum with much of its archive of 20 million items believed to be irrecoverable.
The fire at the 200-year-old Museu Nacional began Sunday after the museum closed and raged all night. Thankfully there were no deaths or injuries, however the collection at the largest natural history museum in Latin America has been decimated.
You can read more about the tragic fire on The Guardian.
Note: The incident took place Mon 3 Sep 2018.
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“It was the biggest natural history museum in Latin America. We have invaluable collections. Collections that are over 100 years old,” Cristiana Serejo, one of the museum’s vice-directors
Brazil’s president Michel Temer called the losses ‘incalculable’, and notable items included: “Luzia”, a 12,000 year-old skeleton and the oldest in the Americas; fossils; dinosaurs; and a meteorite found in 1784.
The burned building housed skeletons of several dinosaurs, including Maxakalisaurus, a 44-foot-long, armor-backed, long-necked titan, and Santanaraptor, a lithe predator that contained beautifully preserved soft tissues in its legs, down to individual muscle fibers.
The museum was also home to an irreplaceable collection of pterosaurs—flying reptiles that soared over the dinosaurs’ heads.
Many of these presumably lost specimens were holotypes—the first, best, and most important examples of their kind. Every specimen is arguably irreplaceable, but holotypes are especially so. Losing them is like losing the avatar of an entire species. Some of these specimens have been drawn and described in the scientific literature, but that information is often patchy, which is why scientists frequently return to holotypes to study them with their own eyes.