Brachiopod collection

Mucrospirifer, a fossil brachiopod

Ventral view of Mucrospirifer, a fossil brachiopod, showing the characteristically wing-like shell. This Devonian specimen from Ohio is 3.5cm wide.

Brachiopod hard parts have excellent preservation potential. As a result, the Museum’s Brachiopod collection has more than 300,000 specimens, including 10,000 type and figured specimens.

300,000                  10,000      

Specimens                           Type specimens   


Uniquely, the collection includes recent (non-fossil) dry and preserved specimens in addition to fossil material.

The value of the collection is enhanced by a specialist library.

Geological range

The full geological range of each subphylum of brachiopod is represented in our collection:

  • Craniiformea (Lower Cambrian to Recent)
  • Linguliformea (Lower Cambrian to Recent)
  • Rhynchonelliformea (Lower Cambrian to Recent)

Major collections

  • Sowerby Collection: contains brachiopod specimens illustrated in the Mineral Conchology
  • William Smith Collection: contains specimens associated with his pioneering mapping of Britain
  • Sir Charles Darwin Collection: brachiopod specimens collected from South America during the voyage of HMS Beagle
  • Davidson Collection

Countries of origin

The collection is representative of oceanic islands and all continents including Antarctica.

Looking for a specific specimen?

The Brachiopod collection is being digitised


Zoë Hughes

Any questions ?

If you would like to use any specimens for research   


Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.