The first Museum of Natural History in Cyprus.
The Cyprus Museum of Natural History operates in an especially designed building complex. It is a remarkable, fully organized museum, of European standards, which contributes to the ample enlightenment of the public, on the flora, fauna and geology of Cyprus.
The Museum’s collection includes more than 2.500 exhibits. The majority of the collection consists of stuffed mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects as well as rocks, minerals, semiprecious stones, shells, fossils and more.
A visit to the Cyprus Museum of Natural History may inspire a deeper love and interest in the study of Nature contributing to the collective effort to protect the environment.
The Museum was inaugurated by the former President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Glafkos Clerides, on the 29th of May in 1996.
The following collections are part of the Museum’s exhibits:
- Collection of Minerals and seashells – Dr. Andreas Kodros
- Collection of Mediterranean seashells and fossils – Dr. Lefteris Hadjisterkotis
- Collection of oceanic seashells – Mr. Stellios Hadjistillis
- Collection of North American mammals – Mr. Nicos Makrides
- The Veterinary Department Collection of birds and animals
Display of collections from private collectors
Our museum can accept exhibits and/or collections from private collectors. In this case a legal agreement will be prepared and signed between the owner and our museum.
The Museum accepts contributions from Collectors that wish to assist in the museum’s important work.
The Cyprus Museum of Natural History was the first museum of its kind on the island, giving tours to thousands of visitors since 1996. During your visit, you will have the unique opportunity to see all 2,500 exhibits and participate in our educational program, specially designed for visitors of all ages. Our museum hosts a big collection of endemic animals, fish, birds, reptiles and insects that look alive thanks to the taxidermy method.
What makes great impression to visitors are the two Mediterranean 3 meter sharks, our rich collection of North America mammals and the two representations of the Paphos forest on one hand, with the famous Cypriot mouflons and of the Larnaka Salt Lake on the other, with the flamingos and other migratory birds. Last but not least, you can take a look at a number of seashells and corals, study our 3 million year fossils and fossilized mini hippo bones living on the island around 8000 BC and eventually admire our valuable semi-precious stones and 90 million year volcanic rocks from Troodos mountain range, the Messaoria valley and other areas of Cyprus. The museum gardens are home to 4 impressive dinosaur replicas that never seize to amaze kids and adults.
Museum tours must be arranged in advance. The entrance to the museum is free of charge.
Please be informed that our Museum will be closed to the public until December 31, 2020, due to the latest measures preventing the spread of Covid-19. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Opening days / hours: Monday – Friday 08:30 – 13:00 (closed until 31/12/2020)
Telephone number: +357 22585834 or +357 22585858
Fax number: +357 22481450
Cyprus Museum of Natural History
Photos Photiades Breweries
P.O. Box 12586, 2251 Latsia
Museum administrator: Doria Nicolaou
“When going up towards Troodos, from a stratigraphic point of view, one descends from the bottom of an older ocean into the depths of the earth, until the upper mantle zone.”
The Troodos Mountain Range was formed some 90 million years ago, 8000 metres below the sea level. These Mountains are exclusively made of ophiolithic stones, abundant in asbestos, chromium, copper-bearing iron pyrite deposits as well as interesting concentrations of gold and silver. This Range is a fragment of oceanic crust and the upper mantle of the earth which was detached from its initial position and gradually uplifted to its present one, because of the descend of the African lithospheric plate under the Eurasian plate. The uplift of Troodos resulted in the reversal of its stratigraphy. When going up towards Troodos, from a stratigraphic point of view, one descends from the bottom of an older ocean into the depths of the earth, until the upper mantle zone.
The Pentadactylos Range, the older of the two mountain massifs, was formed at the time of the Alpine orogenesis (130-220 million years ago). It consists of Permian, Carboniferous and Cretaceous limestone interrupted by basaltic layers. On the lower slopes one comes across Miocene marl, sandstone and conglomerates.
The Central Plain (Mesaoria), which until about 120 thousand years ago was a shallow sea, is formed chiefly of clay, marls and testaceous limestone dated from 0,5 million to 5 million years, while in the areas around Troodos we frequently come across chalk, limestone and gypsum. In some places of Mesaoria, especially in the region close to Nicosia, we come across fossilised shells and other marine life varieties.
The Mediterranean Sea, earth’s biggest closed sea, with a variety of plants, fish and other marine organisms has been, for thousands of years, a source of wealth for the inhabitants of its coasts.
However, the immense industrial and tourist evolution of the 20th century and the continuous pollution of rivers and seas in combination with the systematic fishing of great quantities of fish annually, have caused an incalculable damage in the Mediterranean ecosystem.
With this representative collection, the importance of the Mediterranean in the world marine ecosystem and the need to protect it, are demonstrated.
Palaeontology – Fossils
Palaeontology is the science of the organic world of past geological eras. This science studies fossilised plants and animals that are preserved in rocks. The term «fossils» includes the remains of these organisms as well as their traces or their marks and any other evidence indicating their existence in the past.
Fossils help scientists in determining the geological age of rocks and particularly the age of sedimentary rocks. This age can be estimated by the presence of characteristic (indicative) fossils that lived in specific geological eras. The study of fossils provides scientists with useful information and leads to conclusions concerning the rocks in which they have been found and the environment in which they lived.
The fossils of Cyprus originate mainly from marine species, since the majority of sedimentary rock formations are of marine origin. On earth rock formations and mainly in caves and natural grottos are found fossils of pigmy hippopotami, elephants and other mammals. Fossilised pine cones and pine tree branches that have been found in certain areas in the Pliocene marls are still of unknown origin as far as their species is concerned. These fossils are witnesses of the earliest presence of pine trees in Cyprus.
The Paphos Forest, the biggest and richest forest in Cyprus, which covers an area of about 620 square kilometres, is the only area in the island where the mouflon (Ovis gmelini ophion), a breed of wild sheep, can be found. Since 1978 it is considered a species in danger of extinction and is protected by Cyprus legislation. While in the Cedar Valley grows the beautiful Cyprus cedar (Cedrus libanii-brevifolia).
Larnaca Salt Lake
The Larnaka Salt Lake is one of the most important habitats in Europe for water fowl. Thousands of flamingos, wild ducks and other water or shore fowl find refuge in winter here or rest and gather food for their migratory journeys.
We now come to the fourth hall, which is divided in different sections where the visitor can study the various species of the Cyprus Fauna, their anatomy and habits, their feeding requirements etc.
There are glass showcases with insects, butterflies, fowl and characteristic nests of fowl and insects, animal skulls and jaws. Another thing that impresses the visitor is the representation of the Cyprus rural yard with all the domestic animals one could find in the Cyprus yards of the old times.
The insects department consists of insects found in Cyprus.
Insects belong to the Invertebrates and form one of the most numerous groups of animals on Erath, as they can be found in almost every habitat.
Insects play a crucial role in nature although some of them are considered as harmful to Man. Some feed off other harmful for Man insects, thus diminishing their uncontrolled proliferation. Insects themselves constitute a prey to other animals, thus contributing to the intricate biological balance in Nature.
In this section we can see domestic animals that used to be accommodated in a traditional Cypriot yard. Such animals are donkeys, sheep, goats, cows, rabbits, and more. These animals have been raised by Cypriots for centuries and they provided people with necessities which were essential for their survival, such as meat, milk, eggs, skins and wool.
Indications show that the inhabitants of Cyprus would raise certain species of domestic animals. The inhabitants domesticated animals throughout the prehistoric era and particularly the 7th millennium B.C., during the Aceramic-Neolithic Period. Domesticated animals were pigs, sheep, goats and donkeys, as well as other species. The ox has also been used in Cyprus since the early Bronze Age, around 2500 B.C.
These prehistoric people, who knew the art of navigation, had traversed the sea and came here, bringing with them their household and cattle. It is known that animals, such as goats and sheep, had already been domesticated in the nearby region of the Middle East, during the Mesolithic Era (10,000 – 12,000 B.C.). This Era is the beginning of colonization of the Mediterranean by Man.
The “Bluntnose Sixgill” shark
Come to our museum and get the chance to meet our new shark. The new shark is part of the museum’s collection since last August. The “bluntnose sixgill” shark is a member of the “Hexanchidae” family and his actual name is “Hexanchus griseus”, often simply called the “cow shark”. Some of the shark’s relatives date back to 200 million years ago. This shark is a notable species due to both its primitive and current physical characteristics. All sharks’ skeletons are made out of cartilage instead of bone which gives them great flexibility. Some other great characteristics sharks have, is their strong vision throughout the day and night, but also the ability to see in all directions. What is also admirable is the ultimate movement and balance control they have, and of course the fact that sharks of all species continually shed their teeth and grow new ones.
The Bluntnose sixgill shark is capable of attaining high speeds for chasing and catching its prey. Their diet consists of mollusks, salmon and sea lampreys. This shark can attain a length of up to 550 cm. Skin color ranges from brown to black and the eye color is a fluorescent blue green.
It is believed that the gestation period lasts longer than two years. The eggs hatch inside the body and the babies develop inside the female’s body. The pups are born at a fairly developed stage and their size can reach 65 to 74 cm. New pups are also born with a lighter belly than adults. This is a form of cryptic coloration or camouflage that is used to disguise the pup’s appearance.
The collection has been enriched by a number of mammals from North America, a collection of semi-precious stones, and oceanic corrals and seashells.
Something really admirable is the dinosaur replicas who guard our gardens. These replicas are the creations of Mr. George Florides.
Diplodocus is among the most easily identifiable dinosaurs, with its classic dinosaur shape, long neck and tail and four sturdy legs. For many years, it was the longest dinosaur known. Its great size may have been a deterrent to the predators.
One of the best-known sauropods, Diplodocus was a very large long-necked animal, with a long, whip-like tail. Its forelimbs were slightly shorter than its hind limbs, resulting in a largely horizontal posture. The long-necked, long-tailed animal with four sturdy legs has been mechanically compared with a suspension bridge.
The skull of Diplodocus was very small, compared with the size of the animal and had small, ‘peg’-like teeth that pointed forward and were only present in the anterior sections of the jaws. The neck is believed to have been generally held parallel to the ground and unable to have been elevated much past horizontal. Its long tail may have served as a counterbalance for the neck. The middle part of the tail had ‘double beams’, oddly shaped bones on the underside. They may have provided support for the vertebrae, or perhaps prevented the blood vessels from being crushed if the animal’s heavy tail pressed against the ground.
The front feet (Manus) of Diplodocus were highly modified, with the finger and hand bones arranged into a vertical column. Diplodocus lacked claws on all but one digit of the front limb, and this claw was unusually large relative to other sauropods, flattened from side to side, and detached from the bones of the hand.
We are really happy to have inspired some children during their visit to our museum, so we present to you some beautiful drawings by these young artists.
If you belong to the young artists class you can also send your creations.
Cyprus Museum of Natural History
P.O. Box 12586, 2251 Nicosia