The fossil mammal collections at the Natural History Museum contain an estimated 250,000 specimens from around the world, and are rich in type and figured material.
The collections include historical research collections, such as mammalian material collected by Charles Darwin on the voyage of the Beagle.
Britain’s colonial past has underpinned the growth of our holdings. In addition to European material, we have collections from Australia, North America, South America, Africa and Asia.
We also care for:
The collections include a significant range of Mesozoic mammals and good collections from the Neogene and Quaternary.
We have a growing collection of Tertiary casts.
All continents are represented.
Historically, the collections are biased towards large, exhibitable material. We have worked very hard to redress this imbalance, particularly in the British collections. However, we are unlikely to be able to make a significant impact for most other areas as many parts of the world are now relatively difficult to collect from.
Explore the highlights of our fossil mammal collections from around the world. They incorporate a range of important material, from early pioneering collections rich in type specimens described by Richard Owen, to major new resources such as Professor RJG Savage's research collections from the Micocene of Libya.
Our British holdings include particularly important Pleistocene material from the Republic of Ireland, East Anglia, the Thames Valley and the caves of Devon. Learn more about the most rapidly expanding part of our fossil mammal collection.
Find out about visiting the fossil mammal collections for research purposes.
The fossil mammal specimens housed in the Palaeontology Department are stored in drawers in over 400 cupboards fitted with drawers and shelves, as appropriate for the contents.
The collections are divided up by geographical location:
A collection of global Mesozoic mammals is maintained separately.
The organisation of specimens within each of the geographical sub-collections varies:
Each drawer/shelf has a label identifying the contents taxonomically and, when known, their collection site.
We are working hard to record fossil mammal material in the Museum's electronic collections management system.
Entries can be accessed using the online palaeontology specimen database. Due to the amount of work involved, it is likely to be some time before the entire collection is accessible through this medium.
The fossil mammal collections are housed in 3 locations in London: