The Palaeontology collection, one of the oldest in South Africa, began in the mid 19th century by two pioneers of the Museum, Andrew Geddes Bain and William Guybon Atherstone.
The collections were expanded by Professor EHL Schwartz, the first “Keeper of Mineralogy”, and then by a succession of honorary curators such as Professor ED Mountain and Dr J Rennie, both based at Rhodes University until the 1970s. Dr WJ (Billy) de Klerk was appointed as the first full-time geologist at the Museum in 1985.
The Palaeontological collection consists largely of South African material with a good coverage of vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and trace fossils of varying age. Of interest is the recent addition of Devonian fishes, plants and invertebrates collected from a site on the edge of town.
The collection also includes mammal-like reptiles, fishes and plants from the Permian and Triassic beds of the Karoo. New specimens, particularly in the field of economic geology (ore minerals), are continuously being incorporated into the collection through the close association the Museum enjoys with Rhodes University.