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Machairodus giganteus. Drawing: (c) Velizar Simeonovski
Machairodus giganteus. Drawing: (c) Velizar Simeonovski
Proboscidean tusk. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov
Proboscidean tusk. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov
Gazella. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov
Gazella. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov

Palaeontological Museum Dimitar Kovachev, Asenovgrad

[A branch of the National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences]
Opening hours

Tuesday — Friday 9:00 — 17:00; Saturday 9:00 — 16:00

Palaeontological Museum Dimitar Kovachev
Badelema Quarter, 212 St, 4230 Asenovgrad, Bulgaria
phones: +359 331 63736, +359 87 8250344

Admission fees


— single ticket for persons above age 18: 4.00 BGN
— pupils, students, retirees: 2.00 BGN
— children age 3—6 and people with disabilities: 1.50 BGN
— family ticket (parents with 2 children under age 18): 10.00 BGN
— guided tour in Bulgarian: 10.00 BGN

Free admission


— children under age 3
— May 18 (International Museum Day)
— June 1 — children up to 14 years old
— every first Tuesday of the month — retirees, people with disabilities and their companions

History


The Dimitar Kovachev Palaeontological Museum, a branch of the National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NMNHS) in Asenovgrad, was created with a contract dated 22.02.1990 between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the National Museum of Natural History and the Asenovgrad Municipality. The museum collections are based on the unique school collection gathered by students from the high school in Asenovgrad, under the guidance of biology teacher Dimitar Kovachev, who organised numerous palaeontological expeditions with their participation, supported by the local municipality. The collection was initially stored in the high school of the town, and when the museum was created it became part of the collections of the NMNHS and was transferred to the building provided by the municipality specifically for a branch of the museum. Dimitar Kovachev was appointed the first curator of the museum and today the museum bears his name, in recognition of his special merits.

Hyaena Adcrocuta eximia, locality Hadzhidimovo. Photo: (c) Assen Ignatov
Hyaena Adcrocuta eximia, locality Hadzhidimovo. Photo: (c) Assen Ignatov
Hippotherium brachypus, locality Hadzhidimovo. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov
Hippotherium brachypus, locality Hadzhidimovo. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov

Exhibition


The first floor of the museum exhibition, created by a NMNHS team, was completed in 1995. It presents the evolution of proboscideans. A particularly impressive exhibit is the replica of the Turolian deinothere Deinotherium gigantissimum skeleton, with a height of more than 4 m. It was found near the village of Ezerovo by Dimitar Kovachev, excavated by an expedition of the Sofia University led by Prof. Vasil Tsankov and restored and mounted in the palaeontological museum of the Faculty of Geology and Geography of Sofia University by Assoc. Prof. Ivan Nikolov. In 1999 the exhibition on the second floor of the Asenovgrad Museum was completed and officially opened, with an international palaeontological session organised to celebrate the event. The so-called hipparion mammal fauna from the late Miocene of Bulgaria is presented in the thirty display cases on the second floor. Drawings and the diorama in this exhibition are by palaeoartist Velizar Simeonovski, an associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the NMNHS. Later, the exhibition was expanded with the fossil finds from the early Pliocene discovered during the Bulgarian-French palaeontological excavations near the village of Dorkovo (West Rhodopes) organised (1985—1987) by Nikolai Spassov (NMNHS) and led by Prof. Herbert Thomas of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Today, the exhibition of the Palaeontological Museum “Dimitar Kovachev”, a branch of NMNHS, not only attracts tourists from Bulgaria and abroad, but also serves to educate children and students.
The Deinotherium skeleton in the Palaeontological branch of the NMNHS in Asenovgrad. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov
The Deinotherium skeleton in the Palaeontological branch of the NMNHS in Asenovgrad. Photo: (c) Aleksandar Zarichinov

Collections


The initial museum collection has been multiplied today, thanks to the work of the two full-time conservators of the museum, who between 1990 and 2015 extracted, in the laboratory of the museum and under the leadership of D. Kovachev, thousands of fossil bones from more than 15 tons of sediments, brought with NMNHS funds from the famous palaeontological localities Kalimantsi and Hadjidimovo. To this collection are added the early Pliocene fossils from the Bulgarian-French paleontological expeditions near the village of Dorkovo.

The collection of the Palaeontological Branch “Dimitar Kovachev” is unique in being one of the richest palaeontological collections in the world of the so-called Pikermian hipparion fauna of the late Miocene, when the environment of the Balkans, with its rhinos, giraffes, monkeys and antelopes, was similar to today’s African savannah. The preserved fossil fauna is approximately 8—7 million years old, and the collection contains about 35,000 fossil specimens.

Among the most scientifically impressive fossils are the numerous skulls and other bones of hipparions (ancient three-toed horses) and even-toed ungulates. Also unique are the skeletons of the monkey Mesopithecus, the only known skeleton of a late Miocene porcupine and the saber-toothed cat Metailurus major, the complete skeleton of the hyaena Adcrocuta, the fully preserved Machairodus skull, and the remains of rare fossil proboscideans, among others. Several fossil mammal and avian species and even genera new to science have been described based on these collections, with numerous scientific publications revealing the fauna of that time, due to the joint work of scientists from NMNHS and prominent foreign palaeontologists. These studies have contributed significantly to the establishment of a Bulgarian palaeontological school in the field of vertebrate fauna, with contributions widely known among the international scientific community.

Staff


Nedko Nedyalkov — Dr, curator
Dimitar Plachiyski — technical assistant

Scientific supervisor of the museum is Assoc. Prof. Dr Georgi Markov, from the NMNHS

Research publications on scientific collections housed in the museum


Boev, Z., Kovachev, D., 1998. Buteo spassovi sp. n. — a Late Miocene Buzzard (Accipitridae, Aves) from SW Bulgaria. — Geologica Balcanica, 29 (1—2): 125—129.

Spassov, N., 2000. The Turolian Hipparion-fauna and the character of the environment in the late Miocene of South-East Bulgaria. — Review of the Bulgarian Geological Society, Sofia, 61 (1—3): 47—59.

Kovachev, D., 2001. Description d’un squelette complet de Metailurus (Felidae, Carnivora, Mammalia) du Miocène supérieur de Bulgarie. — Geologica Balcanica, 31: 71—88.

Markov, G. N., Spassov, N., Simeonovski, V., 2002. Reconstruction of the facial morphology of Deinotherium gigantissimum Stefanescu, 1892 (based on the material from Ezerovo, South Bulgaria). — Historia naturalis bulgarica, 14: 141—144.

Spassov, N., 2002. The Turolian Megafauna of West Bulgaria and the character of the Late Miocene “Pikermian biome”. — Bollettino della Societa Paleontologica Italiana, 41 (1): 69—81.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2001. New Chalicotheriidae (Perissodactyla, Mammalia) from Bulgaria. — J. of Vertebrate Paleontology, 21 (3): 596—606.

Kostopoulos, D., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2001. Contribution to the study of Microstonyx: the Bulgarian case. — Geodiversitas, Paris, 23 (3): 41—437.

Христова, Л., Ковачев, Д., Спасов, Н., 2002. Хипарионите (Equidae, Mammalia) от късномиоценското находище Хаджидимово, Югозападна България. — Списание на Българското геологическо дружество, 63 (1—3): 89—98.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2003. Palaeoreas lindermayeri (Wagner, 1848) from the upper Miocene of Bulgaria, and a revision of the species. — Geodiversitas, Paris, 25 (2): 405—415.

Koufos, G., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2003. Study of Mesopithecus (Primates, Cercopithecoidea) from the Late Miocene of Bulgaria. — Palaeontographica, A, 269 (1—3): 39—91.

Hristova, L., Kovachev, D., Spassov, N., 2003. Hipparion brachypus Hensel, 1862 from the Late Miocene of Hadjidimovo, Southwestern Bulgaria. — Comptes rendus de l’Academie bulgare des Sciences, 56 (2): 77—84.

Христова, Л. 2003. Хипарионите (род Hipparion Christol 1832) от района на гр. Хаджидимово (късен миоцен, Югозападна България): таксономия и палеоекология. Дисертационен труд за присъждане на образователната и научна степен Доктор, Геологически институт-БАН, 131+24 стр.

Марков, Г. Н., 2004. Фосилните хоботни (Proboscidea, Mammalia) на България. Дисертационен труд за присъждане на образователната и научна степен Доктор, НПМ-БАН, София, 225+81 стр.

Spassov, N., Geraads, D., 2004. Tragoportax Pilgrim and Miotragocerus Stromer (Mammalia, Bovidae) from the Turolian of Hadjidimovo, Bulgaria, and a revision of the Late Miocene Mediterranean Boselaphini. — Geodiversitas, 26 (2): 339—370.

Spassov, N., Geraads, D., Kovachev, D., 2005. Tragoportax Pilgrim and Miotragocerus (Pikermicerus) Kretzoi (Mammalia, Bovidae) from the Turolian of Bulgaria. — Geologica Balcanica, 34 (3—4): 89—109.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2005. Giraffidae (Artiodactyla, Mammalia) from the late Miocene of Kalimantsi and Hadjidimovo, South-Western Bulgaria. — Geologica Balcanica, 35 (1—2): 11—18.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2006. The Bulgarian Chalicotheriidae (Mammalia): an update. — Revue de paléobiologie, Genève, 25 (2): 429—437.

Merceron, G., Zazzo, A., Spassov, N., Geraads, D., Kovachev, D., 2006. Bovid Paleoecology and paleoenvironments from the Late Miocene of Bulgaria: evidence from dental microwear and stable isotopes. — Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 241: 637—654.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., 2006. A new Sporadotragus (Bovidae, Mammalia) from the late Miocene of Bulgaria. — Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia, 112 (3): 473—479.

Boev, Z., Kovachev, D., 2007. Euroceros bulgaricus gen. nov., sp. nov. from Hadzhidimovo (SW Bulgaria) (Late Miocene) — the first European record of Hornbills (Aves: Coraciiformes). — Geobios, 40: 39—49.

Markov, G. N., 2008. The Turolian proboscideans (Mammalia) of Europe: preliminary observations. — Historia naturalis bulgarica, 19: 153—178.

Kovachev, D., Atanasova, N., 2008. On the presence of genus Hystrix (Rodentia) in the Upper Maeotian from the region south of Hadzhidimovo town, Blagoevgrad district. — Review of the Bulgarian Geological Society, 69: 21—26.

Boev, Z., Spassov, N., Kovachev D., 2008. First Remains of Fossil Ostriches (Aves: Struthioniformes — Struthionidae) from Bulgaria. — Acta zoologica bulgarica, 60 (1): 89—98.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., 2009. Rhinocerotidae (Mammalia) from the late Miocene of Bulgaria. — Palaeontographica, A, 287 (4—6): 99—122.

Boev, Z., Spassov, N., 2009. First Record of ostriches (Aves, Struthioniformes, Struthionidae) from the late Miocene of Bulgaria with taxonomic and zoogeographic discussion. — Geodiversitas, 31 (3): 493—507.

Hristova, L., 2009. Ontogeny and variability in the cheek region of hipparions from the Late Miocene locality Hadzhidimovo-1, Southwest Bulgaria. — Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigraphia, 115 (1): 123—130.

Boev, Z., 2011. Falco bulgaricus sp. n. (Aves, Falconiformes) from the Middle Miocene of Hadzhidimovo (SW Bulgaria). — Acta zoologica bulgarica, 63 (1): 17—35.

Kovachev, D., 2012. A complete skeleton of Adcrocuta eximia (Roth and Wagner, 1854) from the Upper Maeotian (Turolian) of Hadzhidimovo, SW Bulgaria. — Geologica Balcanica 41 (1—3): 77—95.

Hristova, L. 2012. About the age of the Late Miocene localities of the Kalimantsi fossiliferous area on the basis of Cremohipparion (Perissodactyla, Equidae) skull morphology polymorphism. — Historia naturalis bulgarica, 20: 143—150.

Clavel, J., Merceron, G., Hristova, L., Spassov, N., Kovachev, D., Escarguel, G., 2012. On Mesopithecus habitat: Insights from late Miocene fossil vertebrate localities of Bulgaria. — Journal of Human Evolution, 63 (1): 162—179.

Boev, Z., 2012. Circaetus rhodopensis sp. n. (Aves, Accipitriformes) from the Late Miocene of Hadzhidimovo (SW Bulgaria). — Acta zoologica bulgarica, 64 (1): 5—12.

Markov, G. N., Kovachev, D., Tassy, P. 2014. A juvenile mandible of “Mastodongrandincisivus Schlesinger, 1917 from Hadzhidimovo, SW Bulgaria. In: Kostopoulos, D. S., Vlachos, E., Tsoukala, E. (eds), Abstract Book of the VIth International Conference on Mammoths and Their Relatives. Scientific Annals of the School of Geology, Special Volume 102, 116.

Geraads, D., Spassov, N., 2016. Musteloid carnivores from the upper Miocene of South-Western Bulgaria, and the phylogeny of the Mephitidae. — Geodiversitas 38 (4): 543—558. https://doi.org/10.5252/g2016n4a5

Li, Y., Spassov, N., 2017. A new species of Paramachaerodus (Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae) from the late Miocene of China and Bulgaria, and revision of Promegantereon Kretzoi, 1938 and Paramachaerodus Pilgrim, 1913. — Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 3 (91): 409—426; https://doi.org/10.1007/s12542-017-0371-7

Geraads, D. , Spassov, N., 2020. A skull of Machairodus (Felidae, Mammalia) from the late Miocene of Hadjidimovo (Bulgaria), and its place in the evolution of the genus. — Geodiversitas 42 (9): 123—137.