International collections of fossil mammals

In addition to substantial British holdings, the Natural History Museum cares for fossil mammal material from around the world.

Australian collection

Our holdings from Australia include several early pioneering collections. This material was described by Richard Owen and is particularly rich in early type and figured specimens.

South American collection

Our South American holdings were assembled during the 19th century and include:

  • the Charles Darwin Collection
  • much of Richard Owen's research material
  • the Bravard Collection

One of the more significant highlights is the early collection from the Mylodon Cave at Ultima Esperanza in southern Chile.

The Pleistocene collections are rich in ground sloth specimens. There is also a very diverse collection from the Tertiary of southern Argentina. 

North American collection

This relatively small collection of North American material includes:

  • the Koch Collection of Mammut americanum material from the Pleistocene of Missouri
  • some early material from Big Bone Lick

The collection has been greatly enhanced with casts of Tertiary specimens made by Jerry Hooker while on research trips to the USA.

African collection

Our holdings of African material are rich and diverse. They incorporate:

  • many pioneer collections
  • important pre-1936 collections of Louis Leakey
  • large collections from the Miocene and Pleistocene of East Africa
  • major holdings of Oligocene material from the Fayum of Egypt

Professor RJG Savage's research collections from the Miocene of Libya, recently assilimilated into the collections, are a major new resource.

Asian collection

Our Asian holdings are quite large. The principal collection comes from the Siwalik Hills in northern India and was assembled by Hugh Falconer and Proby T Cautley. It is particularly rich in the remains of large mammals, most notably the Proboscidea, and contains much of the material described in Fauna Antiqua Sivilensis.

There are also important holdings from:

  • Maragah, including new material from the Savage Collection
  • Siberia
  • Borneo
  • Israel. The Israeli cave sites dug by Dorothy Garrod around Mount Carmel are particularly well represented.

European collection

Our European material is generally old and quite diverse. There are many important collections, particularly of Tertiary material.

Highlights include:

  • big collections from:
    • Pikermi and Samos in Greece
    • the Quercy phosphorites
  • important historical collections from sites like Epplesheim, Germany
  • a small but significant collection from the Pleistocene of Weimar
  • material representing the famous European cave bear sites
  • pioneering research collections assembled by Dorothea Bate from sites in and around the Mediterranean

Global Mesozoic mammals collection

We care for a very diverse collection of global Mesozoic mammals.