Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, Bahnhofsnashorn, Nashornschädel

#Bahnhofsnashorn – A station, a rhinoceros, and a building site which takes us back 20 million years

Temporary exhibition

The building work going on in preparation for Bern's new station is a stroke of luck for palaeontologists at the Natural History Museum. Rubble from the site is to be examined for fossils dating back to when Bern basked in a subtropical climate.

As part of a major project to extend Bern's main station, building work is taking place at various sites whose natural foundations are 20 million years old. The rock beneath them is made up of erosion material from the Alps which was deposited by rivers in huge amounts on what is today the Swiss Plateau. The sand- and claystone formation which resulted is known as the Upper Freshwater Molasse.

When Tiefenaustrasse was constructed around 1850, and again when the Neufeld tunnel was being built ten years ago, a large number of fossils were found in the sediment, the most spectacular to date being the skull of an early rhinoceros. Fossil finds also show that deer, martens, pigs, tortoises, snails and other animals lived alongside the rhinos over 20 million years ago in Bern. The fossilized plants which have been discovered indicate that the climate must have been subtropical.

Over the next few years, palaeontologists from the Museum will be examining the rubble from the building site at regular intervals, and are confident of making further new finds, potentially even more exciting than the last. Could a complete rhinoceros skeleton come to light this time?

Follow the project live!

The Natural History Museum Bern will be reporting on its research for the entire duration of the building work. For the latest news, check out #Bahnhofsnashorn ("station rhino") on our website and social media. To mark the start of the project, the original rhino skull will be on display at the Museum in a special exhibition from 1 October 2017 - 31 March 2018.