From the Latin word Ruthenia, Russia. In 1827, Berzelius and Osann examined the residues left after dissolving crude platinum from the Ural mountains in aqua regia. While Berzelius found no unusual metals, Osann thought he found three new metals, one of which he named ruthenium. In 1844 Klaus, generally recognized as the discoverer, showed that Osann's ruthenium oxide was very impure and that it contained a new metal. Klaus obtained 6 g of ruthenium from the portion of crude platinum that is insoluble in aqua regia.
A member of the platinum group, ruthenium occurs native with other members of the group in ores found in the Ural mountains and in North and South America. It is also found along with other platinum metals in small but commercial quantities in pentlandite in the Sudbury, Ontario nickel-mining region, and in the pyroxinite deposits of South Africa.