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Digging up the past Prehistoric rhino on display in Bern

Nashornschadel / Rhinoceros skull

Looking 20 million years back down the road: the rhinoceros skull found near Bern’s main train station

(Natural History Museum of Bern / Lisa Schäublin)

Over 150 years ago, roadworks in Bern unearthed a treasure trove of important fossil discoveries – including the skull of an ancient rhinoceros.

The ‘rhino’ lived in the Swiss capital some 20 million years ago, when the climate was subtropical. Prisoners sentenced to heavy labour found the skull while working on the construction project.

Now, the same site and the same layer of rock are being dug up again. Bern’s railway station – the second-largest in Switzerland – is being expanded in a project expected to last until 2025. The Bern-Solothurn transport authorities will let palaeontologists from the Natural History Museum of Bernexternal link explore the excavation site for fossils – a welcome opportunity for science.

During the entire construction period, the Natural History Museum will report on its research at the construction site. Using the keyword #Bahnhofsnashorn (“train station rhino”), the team will share any findings on their website and on social media. Until March 31, 2018, the rhino skull will be on display as part of a special exhibition.

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