A word to lovers of bones of all kinds! The Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée, a mecca of bones and organs, offers the spectacle of two complementary worlds - the vertebrates present in nature and the living beings which have disappeared off the face of the planet.
from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on Tuesdays
recommended visit : age 6+
Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée
2 rue Buffon
From €6 to €9
The Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery
Observe and compare!
More than an open reserve collection, the Galerie d’Anatomie comparée holds all the specimens used to develop the foundations of the discipline. You can work things out and make comparisons by observing the 650 or so skeletons here. By studying the structure of the skeleton, common to all vertebrates, you can see the differences between the groups of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. How does a hedgehog’s foot, a bird’s wing or a tortoise’s leg move around? Where are the nostrils and the eyes located in a whale’s skull? By comparing sizes and shapes, you can recognise how creatures adapt to their living environments and understand how it is possible to live on the land, in the air or in the water. By observing the sets of organs, such as the lungs, heart and liver, you can learn about respiration, circulation, digestion and so on.
A cavalcade of skeletons
As soon as you enter, you’re bound to be struck by this impressive herd of wild animal skeletons, both carnivores and herbivores, with marine mammals bringing up the rear. Head for the largest specimen on display, the whale, which is almost 20 metres long! Rare species can also be found here, such as the African okapi and the narwhale, as well as animals which have disappeared like the Steller’s sea cow extinct since 1768 and the Tasmanian tiger which died out in 1961. Don’t miss the most famous ones, like the rhinoceros skeleton which belonged to Louis XV. An army of skeletons and a battalion of models and innards make up the spectacular collection of organisms gathered from across the globe. Some of them are more valuable than others. These are the classic examples, the first specimens described by the scientific community. But now it’s time to go upstairs to paleontology.
A 540 million year journey
Here you are, thrust like a time traveller into the Galerie de Paléontologie! By following the proposed chronological route, you move through the stages in the history of life, from the oldest periods in time to the most recent. Gaze in awe at the famous fossils from the Paleozoic Era (from 540 to 250 million years ago), such as the gigantic Dunkleosteus. The Mesozoic Era (250 to 65 million years ago) marks the golden age of the dinosaurs: Diplodocus, Iguanodon, Carnotaurus, Triceratops… One contemporary of these animals was Sarcosuchus, a giant crocodile with terrifying teeth! Alongside them, the mammals of the Cenozoic Era (65 million years ago) reflect the evolution of biodiversity. They tell the epic tale of the equines from Hyracotherium, the proboscidians from Phosphatherium and the primates from Aegyptopithecus
The kingdom of invertebrates and plant fossils
Look up and you will see the upper level which forms a mezzanine all around the gallery. There you will find countless invertebrates which have populated the planet for 3.5 billion years. Several hundred specimens have been gathered together here. A mine of information for those who are interested in bivalve molluscs, gastropods, echinoderms and other ammonites. A section of the mezzanine, refurbished in 2013, is also devoted to plant fossils. A selection of specimens illustrates the major plant groups which appeared over time and details the main characteristics they acquired.
The company of bones
The Anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie collections are housed in a superb building made of brick, metal and glass built by the architect Ferdinand Dutert and opened in 1898 for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. Almost 80 metres long, the structure is decorated with a large number of sculptures inspired by nature. Let the intriguing sights of these worlds past and present guide you along.