Fossil invertebrate research

Fossil invertebrate researchers at the Museum specialise in the systematics and geological history of several of the most prolific animal phyla through the Phanerozoic Eon (the past 542 million years).

Our expertise includes:

  • arthropods (jointed-legged animals such as insects, crustaceans, spiders, centipedes, and trilobites)
  • molluscs (snails, clams, squids and relatives)
  • bryozoans (moss animals)
  • echinoderms (including sea urchins, starfishes, and sea lilies)
  • reef corals and coral reefs
  • extinct Palaeozoic groups such as conulariids

We also use invertebrate fossils to:

  • explore the completeness of the geological record
  • calibrate the time dimension of molecular phylogenetic trees
  • analyse speciation and global scale biogeography
  • track the palaeontological record of climate change
  • infer the evolutionary relationships between the main lineages of animals in deep geological time
  • Eocene pseudoscorpion preserved in Baltic amber
    Arthropod research

    Discover what research is underway on the most diverse animal phylum of the last 520 million years. As well as exploring the evolutionary relationships of the main groups, we have projects focusing on trilobites, ostracods and centipedes.

  • Cyclostome bryozoan Meandropora tubipora from the Pliocene of Suffolk
    Bryozoan research

    Bryozoans can provide useful information on past environmental conditions but are often neglected due to their difficult taxonomy. Our bryozoan-related research focuses on their evolutionary history and palaeoecology.

  • Image 19
    Echinoderm research

    Echinoderm-related research in the Museum focuses on their early Palaeozoic diversification and the origins of the major body plans, and the post-Palaeozoic evolution of sea urchins. Explore current projects.

  • Well-preserved fossil corals from the Dominican Republic.
    Research on reef corals and coral reefs

    By studying past examples of rapid ecological change within reef systems, palaeontology researchers hope to be able to help predict how modern reef systems might react to current and future global environmental change. Learn about current projects.

  • Conulariid fossil.
    Conulariid research

    The Museum cares for the second largest collection of conulariids in the world. Find out about research we are undertaking to enhance its scientific value.