A huge fire probably destroyed hundreds of artefacts, including a 12,000-year-old skeleton, a pterodactyl, and priceless indigenous texts at Brazil's national museum

Getty ImagesThe Fire blazing at the Museu Nacional, in Rio De Janeiro.

At 7:30 p.m. local time on Sunday a fire tore through the 200-year-old Museu Nacional in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The museum is Brazil’s answer to blockbuster western museums like London’s British Museum, or the Smithsonian in Washington. Its deputy director, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, said: “There will be absolutely nothing left of the National Museum. The country’s 200-year history has been burned.”

Here are the most revered and priceless items which are likely lost in the blaze:

The pride and joy of the Museu Nacional is this 12,000 year-old skeleton. Popularly known as “Luzia,” she is the oldest human remains in all of the Americas.

BBCThe skull of the 12,000 year old Luiza Woman.

Source: Museu Nacional

The Guardian wrote that the museum held one of the best collections of indigenous literature and artefacts in the world, which includes rare items from the Inca pre-Colombian period.

From contemporary native populations the museum had striking feather art by the Karajás people, as well as examples of ceramics.

Only about 3,000 of the Karajás survive, living in a few dozen villages in central Brazil.

Source: The Guardian

The museum has the largest collection of Egyptian archaeology in Latin America. More than 700 pieces, but this are likely destroyed. This includes the coffin of Sha-Amun-In-Su, a singer-priestess who lived in Egypt around 800 BC.

Seshat Museu NacionalSha-Amun-In-Su

There are also numerous human mummies, and a small collection of animal mummies (cats, ibis, fish and crocodile puppies).

Source: BBC

The museum also had a native collection of dinosaur skeletons from the Sertao region in northeastern Brazil. They have dozens of dinosaur bones, some unique.

UFRJ National Museum/YoutubeA skeleton of one dinosaur housed in the museum.

The Sertao region was once sea many millions of years ago.

Source: BBC Brazil

The collection includes a Pterodactyl (Pterosaur) skeleton with an 8.2m wingspan. It is Brazil’s largest flying reptile relic.


Source: BBC

Also feared lost in the fire is the largest dinosaur skeleton ever assembled in Brazil, the Maxakalisaurus topai – the animal was typical of the Prata region.

TVBrasil/YoutubeThe Largest dinosaur skeleton ever assembled in Brazil, the Maxakalisaurus topai.

Source: TVBrasil

Another valuable artifact inside is the Meteor Bendegó, the largest meteor ever found in Brazil – weighing 5,260kg.

Wikimedia CommonsThe Bendegó meteorite, found in 1784.

It was found in 1784 in the state of Bahia. Given that it survived a fall from space, there is more hope of rescuing this artefact than most.

Source: BBC

Also threatened are large quantities of “pre-Colombian” relics from the Incas, who flourished between 1430 and 1532 AD.

Getty ImagesA gold Inca artifact from around 1,500 years ago.

At its height, the Inca domain extended over a million square kilometers, with different ethnic groups that numbered about 12 million people.

Source: Museu Nacional

The museum also has around 56,000 fossilized plants and animals.

BBC Brazil called it: “One of the most significant palaeontological collections of Latin America.”

The collection of Greek, Etruscan and Roman items – 750 – make it the largest in Latin America.

Museu Nacional UFRJ/YoutubeA Greek-style red figure painted vase from the museum’s collection.

…The rooms full of indigenous Brazilian pottery are also feared lost in the blaze.

UFRJ Museu NacionalThe Brazilian room at the Museu Nacional in Rio, Brazil.

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