The collection of fossil annelids at the Natural History Museum is both geologically and geographically diverse. It contains an estimated 14,000 specimens, including type and figured specimens.
Despite the excellent preservation potential of annelid hard parts they are not often collected. Diversity in an assemblage is often low, relating to a single family, the Serpulidae. Consequently, annelids form one of our smaller invertebrate collections.
The value of the collection is enhanced by a small specialist library.
The collection mainly comprises tubes of the Serpulidae (class Polychaeta), although all 6 classes of annelid are represented:
Trace fossils relating to the worms are curated separately.
Lower Palaeozoic to Recent. Each class of annelid worm is represented across its full geological range.
The collection is representative of all continents, including Antarctica and oceanic islands.
The Museum cares for many important collections linked to major characters in the history of palaeontology. Find out some of the highlights containing fossil annelid specimens.
Discover what facilities are available in the Palaeontology Department for research visitors to the fossil annelid collection.
The fossil annelid collection is primarily arranged
The systematic arrangement follows the Treatise on Invertebrate Palaeontology.
There are some separate historic collections and Recent (non-fossil) specimens.
Each drawer has a label which identifies the content to familial, generic and often specific level.
Most of the collection is well provenanced:
Type specimens are indicated by pink spots, figured by green.
The fossil annelid collection is based across 3 locations in London: