Fish research

Fishes first appeared in the Cambrian period, over 520 million years ago, and have a rich fossil history to the present day. Today they are the most diverse group of vertebrates, with over 17,000 living species. 

Research and expertise at the Museum spans the full period of fish history.

Current research projects cover the:

  • evolution and development of key vertebrate structures
  • systematics, evolution, palaeobiology and palaeobiogeography of North African fishes
  • evolutionary relationships of sharks
  • Neural crest cells tagged with fluorescent dye in the head of an Australian lungfish embryo
    Evolution and development of vertebrate structures

    These studies focus on the evolution and development of vertebrate teeth and the postcranial skeleton. They combine information from palaeontological, developmental and molecular data.

  • Fossil fish collecting site in Mali, West Africa
    Paleogene fish fauna of Mali, West Africa

    Fishes form a substantial part of the fossil fauna of the Early Paleogene of Mali but have not been properly identified or described. Learn what the Palaeontology Department is doing to rectify this.

  • Fossil of the extinct shark Wodnika
    Evolution of sharks

    The Museum has recently acquired a complete specimen of the extinct shark Wodnika. This is being compared with other fossil specimens to identify new morphological characters and investigate the evolutionary relationships of sharks.

  • Fossil fish, Holocentrum melitense.
    Woodward150 symposium: fossil fishes and fakes

    A one-day symposium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of naturalist and fossil fish specialist Sir Arthur Smith Woodward.

Fossil fish researchers