Tom Kapitany

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Tom Kapitany
Photograph of Tom Kapitany.jpg
Tom Kapitany standing next to a large fluorite octahedron specimen on matrix from inner Mongolia.
Tamas Kapitany

(1960-12-15) 15 December 1960 (age 61)
EducationUniversity of Melbourne
OccupationGeologist, teacher, botanist, entrepreneur, consultant, curator, palaeontologist

Tom Kapitany (born 15 December 1960) is an Australian botanist, geologist and entrepreneur. Kapitany is the director of Crystal World in Victoria, Australia,[1] a director of National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra, Australia,[2] a director of Collectors Corner[3] Garden World in Braeside, Victoria, Australia, director of Australian Mineral Mines Pty. Ltd. and an international consultant for museums and universities, particularly in China, Mexico, UK, US, New Zealand and Indonesia with regards to geology.[4][5]

Kapitany completed his B.Sc. in geology and botany at the University of Melbourne in 1984 and has held multiple mining tenements around Australia. Kapitany has made numerous donations to the Museum of Victoria[6] and other museums and institutions worldwide. Kapitany is known for raising awareness on the importance of collecting and fossicking minerals and fossils; to educate people and children on fossils and rocks of biological origin.[7][8] However, as one of Australia's largest commercial dealers of minerals and fossils, he is a controversial figure owing to revelations of his involvement with international fossil smuggling.[9][10][11]


Crystal World[edit]

Tom Kapitany started Crystal World Exhibition Centre in 1999 following his involvement with the family business' retail nursery Collectors Corner. Kapitany would frequently travel the world to source natural history specimens.[12] Through Crystal World, Kapitany has hosted fundraising activities to help the Australian Animal Rescue charity.[13]

Crystal World & Prehistoric Journeys exhibition centre.

In February 2019, Kapitany and Australian Animal Rescue rescued Rosie the Shark, a preserved great white shark facing vandalism at the abandoned wildlife park Wildlife Wonderland[14] and was rehoused at Crystal World in Devon Meadows. The shark was originally preserved in formaldehyde which caused major disruptions to its relocation due to the toxic nature of the chemical.[15]

National Dinosaur Museum[edit]

Tom Kapitany is one of five directors of the National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra, Australia.[16] Since taking charge of the museum's dinosaur exhibits, he added several animated and static model dinosaurs within its paid museum area,[17] including the addition of a dinosaur garden featuring an 8 metre tall model Tyrannosaurus.[18]


In 2002, ABC Catalyst interviewed Tom Kapitany on the topic of fossil protection within Australia; saying that "we shouldn't condemn the whole fossil community based on a few rogue collectors. Nor should we condemn the scientific community on a few rogue scientists."[8]

Kapitany also noted the difficulties involved in the processes of mining and exploration, stating that "it's very difficult for me to find out what I can legally and I can't legally do. And even the museum at times can't give me clear definitions or answers."

Kapitany continued, saying "95 percent of new fossil discoveries are actually found by private individuals. A number of sites I’ve been to, locals are reluctant to show museum specimens because they’re concerned that the museums will close down the site or restrict activity or restrict access. The more you legislate and protect certain things, the less the museums will be made aware of them."


In 2002, Tom Kapitany was interviewed for his professional advice regarding the international fossil market. In the book The Dinosaur Dealers Kapitany gave insight into the market of rare fossils such as dinosaur footprint specimens. Kapitany was also asked into the possible whereabouts of stolen fossils; such as the late 1996 unrecovered stolen dinosaur footprints from Broome.[19] In 2013 Tom Kapitany purchased a small piece of the Chelyabinsk meteorite roughly the size of an Australian 20 cent coin.[20]

Tom Kapitany was noted for his significance in bringing heteromorph fossil specimens of Blackdown formation in Queensland to international recognition in the geological catalog Heteromorph by Wolfgang Grulke.[21]

Scientific reports[edit]

Tom Kapitany was co-author of a 2019 scientific report on tree ring phototropism and its implications for the rotation of the North China Block.[22]

Was co-author of the 2019 scientific paper titled "Modelling U-Pb discordance in the Acasta Gneiss: Implications for fluid–rock interaction in Earth's oldest dated crust".[23]


  1. ^ "Crystals, fossils,meteorites, gems, for sale, wholesale retail". Crystal World - Exhibition of fine crystals, fossils, minerals and Himalayan salt lamps on sale!. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Directors of the National Dinosaur Museum". National Dinosaur Museum. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Cacti Succulents Bonsai Orchids Bromeliads Airplants Hoyas Terrariums". Cacti Succulents Bonsai Orchids Bromeliads Airplants Hoyas Terrariums. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Crystal World and Prehistoric Journeys Exhibition Centre". XXII Meeting of the International Mineralogical Association 2018. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Natural History Museum – Melbourne » Australia". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Museums Board of Victoria Annual Report 2002/03" (PDF). Museums Victoria. 28 March 2019.
  7. ^ "A Brief Tour of Deep Time Geology with Tom Kapitany" (PDF). 2015 November / December Newsletter for the Mineralogical Society of Western Australia Incorporated. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Catalyst: Fossil Trade". ABC Story Archive - The Fossil Trade. 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Melbourne man admits smuggling dinosaur eggs". The Age. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Chinese Embassy's Statement on Fossils Smuggling". Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Fossil collectors, and police, walk on eggshells". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Crystal World Story". Crystal World - Exhibition of fine crystals, fossils, minerals and Himalayan salt lamps on sale!. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Saint Nick gives reindeer the flick". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Great White Shark abandoned at wildlife park: New plans for preserved shark". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Battle to save preserved Great White Shark at abandoned wildlife park". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Directors of the National Dinosaur Museum". National Dinosaur Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  17. ^ "National Dinosaur Museum". National Science Week. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Giant Dinosaur Comes to Canberra – VisitCanberra Corporate". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  19. ^ Long, John (2002). The Dinosaur Dealers. Australia: Allen & Unwin. pp. 41, 45, 46, 55. ISBN 9781865088297.
  20. ^ "Meteorite lands in Devon Meadows | Cranbourne Star News". Cranbourne Star News. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  21. ^ Grulke, Wolfgang (2014). Heteromorph. International: At One Communications. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-9929740-1-5.
  22. ^ Deng, Shenghui; Lu, Yuanzheng; Cao, Yong; Tian, Ning; Kapitany, Tom; Huang, Min; Wang, Yongdong; Liu, Benpei; Jiang, Zikun (19 March 2019). "Tree ring phototropism and implications for the rotation of the North China Block". Scientific Reports. 9 (1): 4856. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-41339-2. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 6425038. PMID 30890749.
  23. ^ Kirkland, C. L.; Johnson, T. E.; Kinny, P. D.; Kapitany, T. (1 January 2020). "Modelling U-Pb discordance in the Acasta Gneiss: Implications for fluid–rock interaction in Earth's oldest dated crust". Gondwana Research. 77: 223–237. doi:10.1016/ ISSN 1342-937X.