Bryozoans are small, diverse, colonial organisms that preserve exceptionally well as secretions of hard calcareous walls or as borings within hard carbonate substrates.
The Natural History Museum holds the best collection of fossil bryozoans in the world, with over 5,000 type and figured specimens.
The collection has about 750,000 specimens, making it one of the most numerous in the Palaeontology Department.
The value of the collection is enhanced by a specialist library.
The full geological range of each group of bryozoans except the Phylactolaemata is represented:
The collection is representative of all continents.
The Museum cares for many important collections linked to major characters in the history of bryozoan palaeontology. Find out some of the highlights.
More than 50,000 scanning electron microscope images of bryozoans are available to researchers visiting this collection. Other available facilities include a visitor's room and specialist library. Learn more.
The fossil bryozoan collection is divided:
Within this, the specimens are arranged alphabetically by genus and then species. There is often a large amount of unsorted material at the end of each section.
There is a small amount of fossil material retained in historic collections and in collections related to publications. These will eventually be reintegrated back into the collections.
Specimens are kept in drawer units:
Each draw is labelled with stratigraphic information. Often there are additional details which can vary but include:
Most of the collection is well provenanced and original labels are often retained with the specimens.
Green spots indicate that specimens are:
Generally, red spots indicate that specimens are:
Publication data is indicated on the specimen label.
Fossil bryozoan specimens can be found in 2 locations in London in the Natural History Museum: