Rix, A. 2021. The Triassic insects of Denmark Hill, Ipswich, Southeast Queensland: the creation, use and dispersal of a collection. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum - Nature 62: 217-242. https://doi.org/10.17082/j.2204-1478.62.2021.2020-11
2 November 2020
18 March 2021
Mesozoic, palaeoentomology, Ipswich Coal Measures, Goodna, Duaringa, Tertiary
Type and additional fossil insects from the Late Triassic Denmark Hill locality in Southeast Queensland, Australia, are held in the collections of the Queensland Museum (Brisbane), the Australian Museum (Sydney) and the Natural History Museum of the United Kingdom (London). The history of these collections shows that they were the product of a concerted effort in the first two decades of the twentieth century to extract the fossils by Benjamin Dunstan, Queensland’s Chief Government Geologist, and to describe the fossils by Dunstan and Robin Tillyard, the foremost Australian entomologist of the time. They collaborated closely to document the late Triassic insects of Australia, at the same time as Dunstan carefully curated and organised both the official government collection of these insects for the Geological Survey of Queensland, and his own private collection. The death of the two men in the 1930s led to the sale by his widow of Dunstan’s private fossil collection (including type and type counterpart specimens) to the British Museum, and the donation of Tillyard’s by his widow to the same institution, in addition to some material that went to the Australian Museum. This paper documents the locations of all of the published specimens. The history of the Denmark Hill fossils (a site no longer accessible for collection) highlights the problems for researchers of the dispersal of holdings such as these, and in particular the separation of the part and counterpart of the same insect fossils. It also raises ethical questions arising from the ownership and disposal of private holdings of important fossil material collected in an official capacity.