Natasja den Ouden
Phone: +31 (0)71-7519566
Room number: C1.09
“The Naturalis collection is a treasure trove for paleontologists”
From a very young age I knew I wanted to become a paleontologist. I collected fossils on what is now Maasvlakte I and read every book on extinct animals I could find in the local library. When I finished my secondary education the possibilities of studying vertebrate paleontology in the Netherlands were non-existent, so I studied archaeology instead. I focused on the Paleolithic and faunal remains as much as possible and in my last year I traveled to Australia to write my thesis on the extinction of the Pleistocene mammal fauna there. As a graduated archeologist I worked in the field for a few years, but paleontology kept calling. I decided to move to the UK to pursue another degree: the paleobiology MSc programme in Bristol. My main focus there was my thesis on Cope’s Rule in the Proboscidea. Elephants and their fossil relatives have always been a favorite of mine, and working on their fossils has always been a dream. When, back in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to study the vast mammoth collection in Naturalis, it was fantastic. And now, as a collection manager, I get to work with the paleontology collections every day!
The Timor Collection
The Indonesian island of Timor is rich in sediments dating from the Permian and Triassic period. These sediments are of marine origin and contain a very large amount of representatives of marine invertebrate groups (corals, brachiopods, ammonites, belemnites, blastoids, crinoids). At the beginning of the 20th century the species richness and outstanding preservation of the fossil material was recognized and several expeditions were organized. Most notable are the expeditions organized by Prof. Molengraaff (Delft University) from 1910-1912 and Prof. Brouwer (University of Amsterdam) in 1937. Both collections are now housed at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands. Together they form the largest museum collection of Timor fossils worldwide and they are of great importance for the study and reconstruction of Permian marine ecosystems.
As the material was collected a century ago, it was suffering from degrading packaging material and fading ink on labels. A special project to clean and repack the fossil material, digitize the information on the labels and photograph fading labels and type specimens was undertaken. The project was part of a larger digitization program where a total of 37 million museum objects (fossils, rocks and minerals, recent plants and animals, but also registers and antique books and drawings) housed in Naturalis are digitized and information made available on the internet. On top of this, our project was being carried out in the LiveScience hall of the museum, which means that visitors were able to see our work, monitor our progress and ask questions.
The extinction of the megafauna in combination with body size adaptations has fascinated me for a long time. In the past I have conducted research into the extinction of the megafauna in Australia at Sydney University and the Australian Museum as part of an MA in Archeology (Leiden University). The fauna there not only witnessed a wave of extinction, but also underwent significant changes in body size. Body size and changes therein became a recurring theme in my research interests when I wrote my thesis on Cope’s Rule in the Proboscidea at Bristol University for an MSc in Paleobiology. As elephants and their fossil relatives have, for most of their evolutionary history, been among the largest living land mammals, their body sizes do not always follow the common macroevolutionary paths and this makes them excellent subjects for studies into the mechanisms involved in body size changes.
Peer reviewed scientific publications
Den Ouden, N., L.W. van den Hoek Ostende & J.W.F. Reumer, 2012: Did mammoth end up a lilliput? Temporal body size trends in Late Pleistocene Mammoths, Mammuthus primigenius (Blumenbach, 1799) inferred from dental data, Quaternary International 255, 53-58.
Den Ouden, N. & L.W. van den Hoek Ostende, 2010: Cope’s Rule in the Proboscidea, Quaternaire HorsSerie 3, p. 107.
Den Ouden, N. & J. Reumer, 2010: Variation in tooth size and morphology of woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius Blum.) from the North Sea, Quaternaire Hors-Serie 3, p. 43.
Den Ouden, N., L.W. van den Hoek Ostende & J.W.F. Reumer, 2010: Did mammoth end up a lilliput? The Palaeontological Society Newsletter 75, p. 46.
Van Kolfschoten. M., M. Kuitems, N. den Ouden & D. De Loecker, 2015: The vertebrate remains of Maasvlakte 2 in a broader context, 20 meters under water! Drowned Landscapes, archaeology and palaeontology in the drowned Rhine-Meuse delta, Maasvlakte 2.
Den Ouden, N., 2014: The Timor collection. From the ground to the cloud, SPNHC Annual meeting, Cardiff, Wales.
Den Ouden, N., R. van Oostrom, T. Tütken, J. van der Plicht, M. Kuitems & J. de Vos, 2014: Dating problems of a mammoth molar. The youngest mammoth of Europe proves just another old mammoth tooth, World of Mammoths Conference, Grevena & Siatista, Greece.
Den Ouden, N., & B. Desjardins, 2013:Special care for historical collections. The Timor Collection at Naturalis Biodiversity Center (the Netherlands), SVPCA Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Den Ouden, N., 2011: Body size patterns in Late Pleistocene woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) from Europe, EAVP Annual Meeting, Heraklion, Greece.
Den Ouden, N., 2011: The Maasvlakte2 Project: combining unique collecting methods, multi-disciplinary scientific research and participation of the general public, EAVP Annual Meeting, Heraklion, Greece.
Weerts, H., W. Borst, N. Den Ouden, et al., 2011: Maasvlakte 2 (Port of Rotterdam), a showcase of interdisciplinary research of drowned Landscapes, IKUWA4, Zadar, Croatia.
Den Ouden, N. & J.W.F. Reumer, 2010: Variation in tooth size and morphology of woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius Blum.) from the North Sea, World of Mammoth Conference, Le Puy-enVelay, France.
Den Ouden, N. & L.W. van den Hoek Ostende, 2010: Cope’s Rule in the Proboscidea, World of Mammoth Conference, Le Puy-en-Velay, France.
Weerts, H., W. Borst, N. Den Ouden, et al., 2011: Maasvlakte 2 (Port of Rotterdam), a showcase of interdisciplinary research of drowned Landscapes, INQUA, Bern, Switzerland.
Den Ouden, N. & L.W. van den Hoek Ostende, 2010: Did mammoth end up a lilliput? Annual meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Gent, Belgium
Den Ouden, N. & J.W.F. Reumer, 2009: End-Pleistocene habitat islands and their effect on mammoth population and body size, Evolutionary islands. 150 years after Darwin symposium, Naturalis, Leiden.
Selected popular science publications
Den Ouden, N., 2014: En toen werd het koud. Evolutie van de zoogdieren deel 6, Cranium 31-2, 40-45.
Den Ouden, N., 2014: Terug naar de kust. Evolutie van de zoogdieren deel 5, Cranium 31-1, 30-34.
Den Ouden, N., 2014: Maasvlakte 2, kruispunt van geologie, paleontologie en archeologie, Grondboor en Hamer 69-4/5, 160-165.
Den Ouden, N., 2013: Met lange tanden. Evolutie van de zoogdieren deel 4, Cranium 30-2, 22-25
Den Ouden, N., 2013: Groen als gras. Evolutie van de zoogdieren deel 3, Cranium 30-1, 24-29.
Den Ouden, N.,& J. Goud, 2012: Aantasting van zoogdierbotten uit de Noordzee door mariene boorders, grazers en knagers, Cranium 29-2, 42-47.
Den Ouden, N., 2012: Het Paleogeen, het begin van het tijdperk der zoogdieren. Evolutie van de zoogdieren deel 2, Cranium 29-2, 48-53.
Den Ouden, N., 2012: – In den beginne…Evolutie van de zoogdieren deel 1, Cranium 29-1, 49-56.
Den Ouden, N., 2011: Oh Oh Katharo, Cranium 28-2, 32-38.
Den Ouden, N., 2010: Een muskusos uit de Oude IJssel, Cranium 27-1, 18-22.
Den Ouden, N. & N. Liscaljet, 2009: Op een (on)bewoond eiland: een overzicht van de echte en onechte dwergslurfdragers, Cranium 26-2, 19-34.
- Francien Dieleman
- Steve Donovan
- Lars van den Hoek Ostende
- Willem Renema
- Han van Konijnenburg-van Cittert
- Hanneke Meijer
- Paul Storm
- Isabel van Waveren
- Hylke Bosma
- Laura Cotton
- Raymond van der Ham
- Anneke Madern
- Martin Rücklin
- Anne Schulp
- Ronald Pouwer
- Caroline Pepermans
- Flip Hoedemaeker
- Arike Gill
- Becky Desjardins
- Cor Winkler Prins