The Museum is home to 80 million specimens, housed in state-of-the-art facilities to preserve them for scientific research. Together they form a record of species that once existed, or continue to exist, on planet Earth.

But this is only part of the picture. There may be millions of species alive today that have not yet been discovered and described. Museum researchers organise expeditions to collect some of them and give us a more complete picture of the Earth’s biodiversity. Explore some of these species in the categories below.

  • Oil painting of the dodo, Raphus cucullatus

    Curators preserve specimens for the future but not all natural history specimens have been as well cared for as they are today. Learn about species we only partially understand because they were not preserved properly.

  • Bradypus tridactylus
    Our collections

    Find out about some of the unique items in the Museum's collections, including the dodo, Archaeopteryx, and early human ancestors.

  • Idioneurula donegani

    Museum scientists go on expeditions all over the world to collect new species and find out more about the Earth's biodiversity. Learn about some of the species they have found.

Cartoon image of lab coats with T.rex name label

Our fossil insect collection includes Rhyniognatha hirsti, the world's oldest fossil insect, dating back some 400 million years.