Dr John Whittaker

Dr John Whittaker
  • Scientific Associate
  • Earth Sciences department
  • Vertebrates and Anthropology Palaeobiology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


John Whittaker's career spanned some 35 years at The Natural History Museum, during which time he was Head of the Micropalaeontology Division between 1988 and 2005. Since becoming a Scientific Associate upon retirement in 2005, John continues to work,  on both Foraminifera and  Ostracoda. In 2009 he was given the Joseph A. Cushman Award (of the Cushman Foundation, Washington, D.C.), recognising... “the excellence of the many contributions to foraminiferal research over his career”.

Although originally an ostracod specialist, John has worked primarily on foraminifera whilst at the Museum, including collaborating with the then Overseas Geological Survey in Ecuador and the Far East.


John's research interests have spanned virtually everything from Carboniferous to Recent in age and included work on 

  • early planktonic foraminifera, 
  • larger foraminifera of the Indo-Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East (here most notably, on the renowned Henson & Associates Collection of the erstwhile Iraq Petroleum Company),
  • recent agglutinating foraminifera. 

He currently works primarily with archaeologists (including members of the Museum's AHOB Project), using both benthonic foraminifera and ostracods to reconstruct Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoenvironments. 

John is a member of the Heron-Allen Society, whose purpose is to research the interests of the polymath Edward Heron-Allen FRS and whose foraminiferal collections and world-renowned library are contained within a room named in his honour at the NHM. 

Heis also an Honorary Member of The Micropalaeontological Society.


John has published almost 200 scientific papers and countless reports and written five books as well as editing many more.