Dr René Fraaije is a professional palaeontologist and founder of the Oertijdmuseum. In 1971 he collected his first fossils while on holiday with his parents, a younger sister and two younger brothers. Later, he studied geology (1978-1985) at the Instituut voor Aardwetenschappen, Utrecht University (The Netherlands). The Stichting (Foundation) Ammonietenhoeve was founded in 1983, and between 1985 and 2000 he organised numerous geological-palaeontological fieldtrips across Europe. In the meantime (1996) he completed his dissertation, entitled “Evolution of Meso- and Cenozoic decapod crustaceans and their role in former ecosystems”.
René also lectured on functional morphology and evolution of cephalopods, decapod crustaceans and echinoderms at Utrecht University on a regular basis. During recent years, his research interest has shifted mostly to paguroid (hermit crabs) evolution, and this has resulted in numerous papers in several peer-reviewed journals.
On April 3, 1999 the Oertijdmuseum was formally opened by Staatssecretaris Rick van der Ploeg, who praised the Oertijdmuseum for its complete independence from any government funding in its exploitation. Over recent years, the total number of paying visitors to the museum has stabilized around 70,000 per annum.