Fossil annelid collection

Rotularia fossil worm tubes

Clusters of fossil serpulid worm tubes, like these Rotularia from the British Eocene, are common fossils in many Mesozoic and Cenozoic marine rocks

The Museum’s collection of fossil annelids is both geologically and geographically diverse.

The collection contains an estimated 14,000 specimens, including type and figured specimens. 



Annelid hard parts have excellent preservation potential, but despite this specimens are rarely collected. Annelid collections tend to lack diversity and are generally focussed on a single family, the Serpulidae. Consequently, annelids form one of our smaller invertebrate collections, although all six classes of annelid are represented:

  • Archianellida
  • Echiuroidea
  • Hirundinea
  • Myzostomaria
  • Oligochaeta
  • Polychaeta

Trace fossils relating to the worms are curated separately.

The collection is enhanced by a small specialist library.

Historical collections

The Museum cares for many important collections linked to major characters in the history of palaeontology.

Highlights featuring fossil annelids include:

  • Sowerby collection: consisting of specimens illustrated in the Mineral Conchology
  • Arthur W Rowe collection: comprising worm tubes from the British Chalk

Countries of origin

The collection is representative of oceanic islands and all continents, including Antarctica.

Looking for a specimen?

The fossil annelid collection is being digitised

Collections manager

Dr Consuelo Sendino

Any questions ?

If you would like to use any specimens for research   

Geological range

Lower Palaeozoic to Recent. Each class of annelid worm is represented across its full geological range.

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected. 

Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.