Fossil vertebrate collections

The Museum houses a large vertebrate collection containing fossils from all continents, particularly Britain and Europe. 

The vertebrate collection includes

  • the earliest bird, Archaeopteryx
  • jawless fishes, the oldest vertebrate group to appear in the geological record
  • the earliest tetrapods
  • a wealth of dinosaur and marine reptile species
  •  the earliest mammal species 
  • mammoths and woolly rhinos that roamed in Britain during glacial episodes
  • Giant lemur skull
    Fossil mammal collections

    Discover fossil mammal material from across the globe, including a diverse collection of Mesozoic mammals and an abundance of type and figured material.

  • Fossil actinopterygian fish, Ellimichthys
    Fossil fish collection

    Founded in the 1880s, our fossil fish collection continues to increase in size and scope thanks to donations and fieldwork. It includes material from every modern continent and spans the Ordovician to the Pleistocene. Learn more.

  • Raphus cucullatus, dodo.
    Fossil bird collections

    Collections include Archaeopteryx, large flightless birds (ratites), and recently extinct species such as the dodo.

  • Megalosaurus jaw fossil.
    Fossil reptile collections

    All major reptile clades are represented, and we care for one of the world's most important dinosaur collections. Explore our historic collection of 3,100 specimens, from the holotype specimen of the oldest known reptile to the first articulated plesiosaur.

  • Paracyclotosaurus davidi fossil.
    Fossil amphibian collection

    Explore the highlights of our Late Devonian to Pleistocene collection, including type specimens of temnospondyl amphibians, microsaurs, nectrideans, frogs and salamanders. 

Contact us

Palaeontology collections team

Contact the palaeontology collections team with scientific enquiries about the collections.

Using palaeontology collections