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Ronald Pouwer

Geological collections - Cainozoic Mollusca


Email: ronald.pouwer@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71 75 19 328
Room number: C01.09, Darwinweg 2
“It is a real pleasure to work in this great collection, uncovering its treasures and making it accessible.”

Due to temporary relocation of the collection Fossil Mollusca visits (including Synthesis) and loans will be restricted till September 2019. A small part of the collection will stay accessible during this period but the greater part will be virtually inaccessible. 

Please contact ronald.pouwer@naturalis.nl if you want to visit us or loan something. I will see what can be done.

We apologize for this inconvenience.

Fossil molluscs have been a favorite of mine since I was a little boy. I had the good fortune to work with them on a professional basis as research assistent at the molluscan lab of the Geological Survey from 1989 till 2000. 

As of November 2009 I am manager of the collection fossil Mollusca of Naturalis, more precisely the Cainozoic Mollusca. Cretacious and older molluscs are kept in the collection fossil Evertebrata which is taken care of by Natasja den Ouden. I am working closely together with Frank Wesselingh, the researcher and curator of fossil Mollusca at Naturalis. His retired predecessor Arie W. Janssen is often of great help answering questions and solving problems concerning the collection. Important work like sorting, labeling and registering samples is done by the collection technicians and volunteers Hanneke Burgers, Mieke Visser, Charles Barnard and Marian Helwerda.


It is a real pleasure to work in this great collection, uncovering its treasures and making it accessible for all who are interested. Regularly pieces of the historical puzzle are discovered, contributing to a fascinating picture. During 2012 the collection has been transferred to new, more efficient cabinets which allows us to accommodate further extension of the collection. With continued research and acquisition of important private collections, large growth of the collection is expected. In 2013 a substantial part of the collection has been digitized, which facilitates access of its contents. Our aim is to make this information available to the public.


In 1985 I graduated as zoological-ecological research analist at what is nowadays the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (Amsterdam University of Applied Science). During the first four years I worked as research analist on population dynamics and ecotoxicology in marine environments in the southwest of the Netherlands.

In 1989 I was appointed research analist at the molluscan laboratory of the Rijks Geologische Dienst (Geological Survey of the Netherlands). During the following twelve years the molluscs and other macrofauna of many boreholes were analysed, interpreted and reported by me. Due to changed circumstances I decided to quit this job in 2000.

From 2001 to 2005 I had my own travel company, organising hiking trips and guiding small groups in the mountains of Iceland, Norway and other countries. Indeed, something completely different.

In 2005 I started working at Naturalis, doing many different things like digitising the bird collection, revising a part of the fossil mollusc collection, photographing type specimens of mammels, birds, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles, and co-managing the database of the herbarium, eventually becoming manager of the collection fossil Mollusca in 2009.


Collection interest

Naturalis Biodiversity Center hosts one of the main collections of Cainoizoic Mollusca in Europe, containing more than 300,000 lots. Its focus is on Indonesia and Europe, with some smaller subcollections from other parts of the world. The collection is divided into sections with various ways of organisation and access. Some parts have a mainly taxonomical organisation (e.g. large parts of the Indonesian collection and the Dutch Coast collection), others are organised by age, followed by country/basin, locality and finally taxonomy (e.g. European collection). Finding all samples of a certain species often involves searching in different drawers. On the other hand you can get a quick overview of the complete fauna of many localities. About one third of the lots is registered in the database.

A number of institutional collections were partly or entirely added, for instance those of the Geological Museum of Wageningen University, the Geological Museum of Delft Technical University, The Zoological Museum of Amsterdam University, the Geological Faculties of the universities of Groningen and Amsterdam, the Bataafse Petroleum Maatschappij (predecessor of Shell), the Geological Survey of the Netherlands East Indies (Mijnwezen) and the Geological Survey of The Netherlands (RGD).

In 2015 a declaration of cooporation with the Stichting Schepsel Schelp in Utrecht was signed. In the decades to come this privately owned museum will donate their collections to Naturalis. In 2015 already c. 7000 sampels of worldwide Pleistocene and Pliocene molluscs have been transferred to Leiden.

We are happy and proud to maintain good contacts with amateurs. Many amateurs are dedicated and accurate collectors, bringing together important, valuable and sometimes unique private collections. Some amateurs are also doing research on a professional level. Currently major parts of our collection originate from private collections, some of them consisting of 10,000 to 40,000 lots. We expect considerable future growth of our collection, mainly thanks to donated private collections.

Professionals and professionally working amateurs are welcome to visit the Cainozoic Mollusca collection for their research. Please contact me if you intend to visit our collection, want to loan material or if you have further questions.

Section Indonesia

Our collection of fossil Indonesian Molluscs is probably the largest and most important in the world. It contains c. 3000 type lots by researchers as K. Martin, C. Beets, C.O. van Regteren Altena, E.J. Koperberg, G.G. Wissema, J. Cosijn, M.M. Schepman, S. Reich, F.P. Wesselingh, E. Robba and others. All large islands and some smaller ones are covered. Naturalis Biodiversity Center is actively doing research in Indonesia, resulting in continuous expansion of the collection. To name just a few highlights

  • Martin collection: Neogene and Quaternary of Java, containing c. 2000 type lots

An illustrated type catalogue is available.

  • Mijnwezen / Cosijn collection: Pliocene of East Java, containing many types
  • Koperberg collection: Neogene and Quaternary of Timor, containing many types
  • Dubois collection: the molluscan samples of the famous Dubois collection from Java, containing a freshwater bivalve with c. 500,000 years old engravings

Section Asia & Oceania

This section (excluding Indonesia) is quite small. To name one highlight:

  • Lebanon: Quaternary molluscs from the archeological site Ksar 'Akil

Section Africa

Also a small section, with one clear highlight:

  • Nigeria: Eocene around Bende Ameki

Section America

Including North-, Central- and South-America. Some highlights are:

  • Amazonia: Miocene molluscs from the Lake Pebas system, primarily brought together by Frank Wesselingh during his PhD-research (1991-1996). Containing many types.
  • Former Netherlands Antilles: Caenozoic molluscs of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao

Section Holoplanktonic Mollusca

Probably the biggest collection of its kind in the world, containing about 11.000 lots from all over the globe. This collection has been built up by Arie W. Janssen and is still growing. It contains many types.

The collection Recent Mollusca of Naturalis also houses a large collection of Recent holoplanktonic molluscs, thus making Naturalis a global hot spot for this interesting group.

Section Europe

This is the largest section, which is especially rich in material from The Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany. It contains many types and figured specimens. Some highlights are:

  • Paleocene / Eocene of Spain
  • Eocene of France: Paris Basin and Nantes Basin
  • Eocene of Belgium
  • Oligocene of France, Belgium and Germany
  • Miocene of Winterswijk-Miste: very rich and famous fauna from the east of the Netherlands
  • Miocene of the area around Antwerp (Belgium)
  • Miocene of France: Loire and Aquitaine areas
  • Miocene of Northwest Germany
  • Miocene of Turkey: Karaman Basin
  • Pliocene of the area around Antwerp (Belgium)
  • Pliocene of Italy
  • Pliocene of Iceland: Tjörnes cliffs
  • Pleistocene of the Netherlands: Eemian of the area around Amsterdam
  • Prepared 'seabottoms' from the Cainozoic of Belgium

Section Dutch coast

c. 30.000 lots from the North Sea, estuaries and beaches

Section boreholes

Mainly comprising of the large molluscan collection of the Geological Survey of The Netherlands (RGD / NITG-TNO), which was acquired in 2005, supplemented with some boreholes already in custody by Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Its focus is on the Netherlands and the Dutch sector of the North Sea. Some highlights:

  • Palaeocene and Oligocene molluscs from mineshafts in Limburg
  • Miocene fauna's from the Peel-region
  • Pliocene and Pleistocene from various parts of the country and the Dutch part of the North Sea
  • The Ouwerkerk borehole (important reference)
  • Quaternary terrestrial faunas
  • Spatfall from the North Sea

Section samples and residues

We also house a large collection of 'raw' sediment samples and residues. These have been brought together by staff of Naturalis (and the predecessor Rijksmuseum van Geologie en Mineralogie), the former molluscan laboratory of the Geological Survey of the Netherlands and the former Deltadienst Rijkswaterstaat. It contains material of a vast number of excavations and boreholes in the Netherlands and other European and non-European countries. Many of these localities are not accessible anymore. This collection is a goldmine for present and future research.

Researchers and collectors

The main researchers who have worked or still work on - and in most cases largely expanded - the collections are K. Martin, C. Beets, C.O. van Regteren Altena, A.W. Janssen and F.P. Wesselingh. 
Many other researchers and private collectors have contributed to it by donating samples or complete collections, sometimes as part of acquired institutional collections, including J.J. van Aartsen, J.C.H. Albrecht & W. Valk, W.S.S. van Benthem Jutting, M. van den Bosch, W.J. van der Burg, J. Cosijn, P.H. Creutzberg, J. van Dalsum, C. Deerenberg, P.A.M. Gaemers, M.I. Gerhardt, W. Groeneveld, J. Gunst, H. van Haren, J. Heering, P. & R. Hessel, C. IJspeert, J. Janse, F.J. Janssen, E.J. Koperberg, W.J. Kuijper, D. van der Mark, R. Marquet, T. Meijer, F.A.D. van Nieulande, S. Reich, E. Robba, M.M. Schepman, L. van der Slik, G. Spaink, W.C.H. Staring, A.S. Timmermans, M. Vervoenen, J. van der Voort, J.H. van Voorthuysen, M.E. Vreede, G.G. Wissema etc.


quaternary, caenozoic, cainozoic mollusca, paleogene, cainozoic, paleocene, molluscs, holocene, pleistocene, miocene, oligocene, neogene, eocene, fossil mollusca, pliocene


Research interest

I am interested in the taxonomy, stratigraphy and palaeo-ecology of molluscs, with a focus on the Pliocene of the North Sea Basin. During my work as a research assistant on the molluscan lab of the Geological Survey of the Netherlands (RGD / NITG-TNO), I analysed numerous boreholes from the Netherlands and the Dutch sector of the North Sea. In recent years I studied the taxonomy of the genus Laevastarte and contributed to a book on the fossil bivalves, scaphopods and chitons of the Dutch coast. Currently I am involved in the inventory of the fossil gastropods of the Dutch coast, which will result in another book.


Palaeontology and geology

Pacaud, J.-M. & R. Pouwer, 2017. Rediscovery of the syntype series of Astarte omalii de la Jonkaire, 1823 and Astarte basterotii de la Jonkaire, 1823 (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Astartidae). Cainozoic Research 17(1): 63-69, 22 figs, 2 tabs.

Raad, H., R. Rijken & R. Pouwer, 2016. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust II, deel 11. Conoidea. Spirula 409: 28-49, 54 figs.

Wesselingh, F.P., F. van Nieulande, K. Fraussen, P.W. Moerdijk, A.W. Janssen, R. Pouwer & R.Rijken, 2014. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust II, deel 8. Buccinidae. Spirula 401: 194-205, 40 figs.

Pouwer, R., 2014. The types of Gibbula nehalenniae van Regteren Altena, 1954 (Mollusca, Gastropoda) re-investigated. Cainozoic Research 14(2): 113-117, 5 figs, 1 tab.

Vervoenen, M.,  F. van Nieulande, K. Fraussen, F.P. Wesselingh & R. Pouwer, 2014. Corrigendum to: Pliocene to Quaternary sinistral Neptunea species (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Buccinidae) from the NE Atlantic of Vervoenen et al. (2014). Cainozoic Research 14(2): 139, 1 fig.

Vervoenen, M.,  F. van Nieulande, K. Fraussen, F.P. Wesselingh & R. Pouwer, 2014. Pliocene to Quaternary sinistral Neptunea species (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Buccinidae) from the NE Atlantic. Cainozoic Research 14(1): 17-34, 28 figs.

Rijken, R. & R. Pouwer, 2014. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust II, deel 7. Nassariidae. Spirula 397: 46-55, 37 figs.

Moerdijk, P.W., & R. Pouwer, 2013. Laevastarte quiespacis nov. spec. (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Astartidae) from the Pliocene of The Netherlands. Cainozoic Research 10(1-2), 9-13.

Pouwer, R., & F.P. Wesselingh, F.P., 2012. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust II. (deel 3) Trochidae, Solariellidae en Calliostomatidae. Spirula 389: 151-164.

Wesselingh, F.P., R. Rijken, F. van Nieulande, A.C. Rijken & R. Pouwer, 2012. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust II. De Cerithium-achtigen (deel 2). Spirula 385: 37-47.

Arie W. Janssen, A.W., M. van den Bosch, A. Burger, A.C.. Janse, T. Lindemann, T. Meijer, P.W. Moerdijk, R. Pouwer, L. Vaessen & F.P. Wesselingh, 2011. Over ‘Afzettingen’, Afzetting, afzetting en Laagpakket. Afzettingen WTKG 32(3): 54-61.

Wesselingh, F.P., & R. Pouwer, 2011. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust II. Patellogastropoda en Vetigastropoda (deel 1). Spirula 383: 129-142.

Pouwer, R., 2010. The identity of Isocrassina, Laevastarte and Ashtarotha (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Astartidae) and their representatives from beaches and estuaries in The Netherlands and Pliocene strata in Belgium. Cainozoic Research 7(1-2): 27-67 .

Moerdijk, P.W., A.W. Janssen, F.P. Wesselingh, G.A. Peeters, R. Pouwer, F.A.D. van Nieulande, A.C. Janse, L. van der Slik, T. Meijer, R. Rijken, G.C. Cadée, D. Hoeksema, G. Doeksen, A. Bastemeijer, H. Strack, M. Vervoenen & J.J. ter Poorten, 2010. De fossiele schelpen van de Nederlandse kust. Nederlands Centrum voor Biodiversiteit Naturalis, Leiden. 332 p.

Keukelaar, H. & R. Pouwer, 2002. Trochidae van de Zeeuwse stranden en stromen (2): Het geslacht Gibbula. Voluta 8(1): 5-8

Keukelaar, H. & R. Pouwer, 2001. Trochidae van de Zeeuwse stranden en stromen (1): De geslachten Margarites, Solariella, Calliostoma en Jujubinus. Voluta 7(1): 6-10

Leeuwen, R.J.W. van, D.J. Beets, J.H.A. Bosch, A.W. Burger, P. Cleveringa, D. van Harten, G.F.W. Herngreen, R.W. Kruk, C.G. Langereis, T. Meijer, R. Pouwer & H. de Wolf, 2000. Stratigraphy and integrated facies analysis of the Saalian and Eemian sediments in the Amsterdam-Terminal borehole, the Netherlands. In: Kolfschoten, Th. van & P.L. Gibbard (eds.): The Eemian – local sequences, global perspectives. Geologie en Mijnbouw / Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 79: 161-196 .

Cleveringa, P., T. Meijer, R.J.W. van Leeuwen, H. de Wolf, R. Pouwer, T. Lissenberg & A.W. Burger, 2000. The Eemian stratotype locality at Amersfoort in the central Netherlands: a re-evaluation of old and new data. In: Kolfschoten, Th. van & P.L. Gibbard (eds.): The Eemian – local sequences, global perspectives. Geologie en Mijnbouw / Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 79: 197-216 .

Moerdijk, P.W., R. Pouwer, A.C. Rijken & F.A.D. van Nieulande, 1992. Fossiele schelpen van de Zeeuwse stranden en stromen: conclusies van determinatiebijeenkomsten. Deel 1: Naticidae, Nassariidae, Glycymeridae, Astartidae, Veneridae. Werkgroep Geologie Kon. Zeeuwsch Gen. Wetensch., Publ. 2: 1-38, 10 pls.

Pouwer, R. 1991. Slotbeschouwingen 1. Lutraria magna en z’n groefje. Afzettingen WTKG 12(3): 84-86, 1 fig., 1 tab..

Pouwer, R., 1989-2000. About 80 unpublished internal reports of the Molluscan laboratory of the Geological Survey of The Netherlands (RGD / NITG-TNO).


Pouwer, R. & A.C. Smaal, 1988. De groei van uitgehangen mosselen in Ooster- en Westerschelde, maart 1987-april 1988. Notitie Rijkswaterstaat, Dienst Getijdewateren GWAO-88.

Pouwer, R., M. Lemstra, A.C. Smaal & J. van der Meer, 1987. Eindrapport AFWERK-OMA/KOMA. Effecten van droogstand op overleving en conditie van mosselen en kokkels voor, tijdens en na de sluiting van het Tholense Gat en het Krammer. Nota Rijkswaterstaat, Dienst Getijdewateren GWWS-87.404: 1-28, 15 figs, 12 tabs.

Pouwer, R., 1987. Schelpen van Ensis directus in de Oosterschelde. Zeepaard 47(4): 106.

Lambeck, R.H.D., & R. Pouwer, 1986. Een bestandsopname in voorjaar 1985 van het macrozoobenthos in het Grevelingenmeer, en enige notities over lange-termijnontwikkelingen. Rapporten en verslagen Delta Instituut voor Hydrobiologisch Onderzoek 5: 1-40, 13 figs, 6 tabs.

Pouwer, R., 1985. De verspreiding, populatie-opbouw en groei van de kokkel (Cerastoderma edule) op enkele platen in de Oosterschelde. Studentenverslagen Delta Instituut voor Hydrobiologisch Onderzoek D4: 1-75, 37 figs.


Pouwer, R., 2014. Naturalis en mijn collectie. Cranium 31(1): 38-40

Pouwer, R., 2013. Naturalis en mijn collectie. Voluta 19(1): 4-9

Pouwer, R., 2012. Werkgroep voor Tertiaire en Kwartaire Geologie. Voluta 18(2): 4-5

Wesselingh, F. & R. Pouwer, 2011. Aftrap tweede deel fossielenatlas: De Gastropoda. Voluta 17(2): 4-5

Pouwer, R., 1997. RGD maakt plaats voor NITG-TNO. Afzettingen WTKG 18(3): 46-47.

Pouwer, R., 1992. Hemelvaart in het voormalige arbeidersparadijs. Afzettingen WTKG 13(4): 105-108.

Pouwer, R., 1991. Waar Rijn en Maas tesamen stromen. Afzettingen WTKG 12(4): 100-102.

Oral and poster presentations

Ouden, N. den, & R. Pouwer, 2016. Better together. Amateur and professional palaeotologists in The Netherlands. Poster presented at the XIV annual meeting of the European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists, 6-10 July 2016, Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Pouwer, R., 2014. New focus on old Indonesian fossil mollusc collections. SPNHC 29th Annual meeting, 22-27 June 2014, Cardiff, Wales.

Pouwer, R., 2013. Naturalis en mijn collectie. Joint WTKG & WPZ meeting, 13 April 2013, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Pouwer, R. & F.P. Wesselingh, 2012. Wat te doen met je collectie als je er niet meer bent. Meeting Werkgroep Geologie Kon. Zeeuws Gen. Wetensch., Middelburg, The Netherlands.