Fossil vertebrate research

An active team of fossil vertebrate researchers and curators at the Natural History Museum is exploring many diverse aspects of vertebrate evolutionary palaeobiology and the role of this major group in shaping the history of life.

Current projects span the Ordovician to the Quaternary, include material from almost all parts of the globe, and also encompass some work on living animals.

Particular areas of expertise include:

  • Palaeozoic and Palaeogene fish
  • Mesozoic reptiles and amphibians
  • Palaeogene and Quaternary mammals

The Museum collections provide the nucleus for many of our projects, but the vertebrate research group also collaborates with institutions all over the world.


We use a variety of techniques and methods including:

  • alpha-taxonomy and phylogenetic analysis
  • advanced computer modelling
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • computed tomography (CT) scanning
  • Heterodontus portusjacksoni, the Port Jackson shark
    Fish research

    Learn about the work being carried out by the Museum's fossil fish research group. Explore some projects with a focus on the development of key vertebrate structures, the Palaeogene fish fauna of West Africa, and the evolution of sharks.

  • Museum palaeontologists excavating dinosaur fossils in Niger, northwest Africa
    Dinosaur research

    Dinosaur researchers at the Museum are carrying out a range of studies to increase our understanding of this diverse group, from taxonomic revisions to analysis of feeding and locomotory behaviours. Find out more.

  • Skeleton of the giant ground sloth, Megatherium, an extinct mammal that lived during the Pleistocene
    Quaternary mammal research

    The Quaternary is the most recent geological period, spanning the last 2 million years. Major changes of global climate impacted the biosphere and our mammal research is geared to investigating those effects. Explore our projects.

  • Oligocene turtle carapace.
    Turtle research

    Chelonians have persisted through major environmental changes and extinctions. Taking a turtle's-eye-view, we investigate whether the fossil record can help us better understand past and future responses to long-term environmental change.

  • Museum palaeontologist excavating dinosaur fossils in Antarctica
    Staff studying vertebrates

    Find out who is currently involved in vertebrate-related research at the Museum.