Back to: Nature online


We preserve our specimens in many different ways. No method will keep every characteristic of an organism in its original state but we aim to retain as many of the key features as possible.

Many of the specimens in the Spirit Collection have lost their original colours but their anatomical characteristics, body tissues and sometimes DNA can still be studied. These are the key features in their identification.


By contrast, the important characteristics of butterflies are their wing patterns. The best way to preserve them is by drying and storing them away from sunlight.

 Learn more about:

Learn more about using anatomy Using anatomy

Using anatomical details of tiny arthropods to study evolution in a Russian lake

Preserving: different techniques

Efforts to stop an organism's natural decay process start as soon as it is collected. Touch the images to see how these specimens were preserved.

Butterfly preservation
Bird preservation
Fish preservation    
Plant preservation