The Discovery collections originate from a number of different expeditions (1901-1999) and include a wide range of marine specimens that may be of use for ocean acidification research. The collection of pteropods may be of particular importance - if CO2 emissions were to continue unabated, southern ocean surface waters might be unsuitable for aragonitic pteropods by mid-century (Hunt et al. 2008).
The vast Discovery collections at the Natural History Museum represents a potentially valuable source of baseline information to examine whether calcification rates have already been altered in the southern oceans over the past century.
Bryozoans, cetacean parts, chaetognathes, cnidarians, ctenophores, crustaceans, echinoderms, echiurans, fish, molluscs, plankton, polychaetes, pteropods, sipunculids, sponges, urochordates, foraminifera.
Collections are primarily from the Atlantic, most notably from the southern Atlantic and Antarctic waters.
Plankton samples were collected from the south Atlantic and southern oceans between the 1920s and 1950s.
The collections begin with the expedition to the Antarctic in 1901-1904 and continue through the 20th century.
The most prominent research ships that made collections are:
All the Discovery expedition collections are located at the Natural History Museum, London. They were moved here in the 1990s when the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences (IOS) relocated from Wormley to the National Oceanographic Centre at Southampton.
The foram slide collection and ocean bottom residues can be found in the in Palaeontology Department. All other specimens are housed in the Zoology Department or within bulk samples from the ocean bottom deposit collection in the Mineralogy Department.
Discover how to link Discovery foram slide specimens with their source residues and bulk samples. These may be more available for destructive sampling.
Zoological Discovery specimens are curated separately from Discovery foraminifera.
There are an estimated 5 million specimens in the Zoology Department (Rainbow 2005) preserved within:
Every spirit jar is labelled with precise collection information, including:
With the exception of 26,542 plankton samples, the collection has largely been split up into taxonomic groups, but generally not at the species level (Rainbow 2005).
12,888 zoological Discovery specimens (11,633 of which are fish) have been entered into the online Zoology specimen database.
Collection date and station number are not currently available online. However, all collection information is readily available on the jars themselves for all taxa.Visit the Zoology specimen database
Forams are the only Discovery expedition organisms not housed in the Zoology Department. They can be found in:
An excel database is available for the Heron-Allen collection that contains a portion of the Discovery foram slides. Information is arranged according to research ship. For each slide, it contains:
There are also databases of the Discovery ocean bottom deposit and residue samples:
Discovery ocean bottom deposit samples database Excel (330.5 KB)
Discovery residues database Excel (134.5 KB)
Scientific reports on the taxa collected during Discovery expeditions are available online.
The Discovery foraminifera reports are in three volumes and contain a detailed list of the species collected - predominately from RRS. Discovery and William Scoresby. All of the listed specimens have been curated as slides and are stored in the Palaentology Department.
Besides the taxonomy, the most important feature of these reports is the station information where particular species were collected.Discovery taxonomic and summary reports on the Biodiversity Heritage Library
Natural History Museum, London
Natural History Museum, London
See the zoology collections staff list
If you are unable to open any Excel file on this page, please email the project coordinator Jeremy Young to request the document in another format.