The Natural History Museum’s large collection of fossil fishes contains approximately 80,000 specimens, of which 5,000 are type or figured specimens. A considerable number of researchers visit every year.
The fossil fish collection was founded on 2 substantial collections purchased in the late 1880s from:
Read more about the origins of the collection in an article by Peter Forey on p11-13 of Set in Stone Vol.2 No.3 PDF (818.0 KB)
Fieldwork by Museum staff and donations continue to increase the size and scope of the fossil fish collection. In 2007, a large donation by David Kemp added considerably to the UK Eocene taxa represented.
Ordovician to Pleistocene
Recent (non-fossil) fishes are held in the Museum’s zoological collections.
The collection includes specimens from every modern continent:
Earth sciences department at the Natural History Museum, London.
Learn about important collections within the fossil fish collection and what they contain. Specimens include the largest actinopterygian known and the first fossils prepared by Harry Toombs using his pioneering acid-preparation technique.
The fossil fish collection is arranged by taxon.
According to a recent survey of the collection of gnathostomes (jawed fishes), at least 45% are actinopterygians (ray-finned fishes).
The collection occupies approximately 30 rows of cabinets.
Drawer labels list:
Specimens are currently being recorded in the Museum’s electronic collections management system. Specific projects focus on:
Entries can be accessed using the online palaeontology specimen database.
Other curatorial projects involve: