Fossil sponge collections

Calyptrella tenuissima, a glass sponge fossil

Drawing of Chenendopora michelinii Hinde (specimen NHMUK PI P 1197) published in James Parkinson's book Organic Remains of a Former World in 1808. Originally labelled as being from the Cretaceous Upper Greensand of Wiltshire, England, the specimen is now considered more likely to be from France.

The Museum has a substantial collection of fossil sponges that contains an estimated 71,000 specimens, including more than 200 type and figured specimens. The collection also contains a number of important historical sub-collections.

71,000                200  

Specimens                  Type specimens  

Geological range

Each class within the Porifera is represented across its full geological range:

  • Demospongea: Cambrian to Recent
  • Calcarea: Cambrian to Recent
  • Hexactinellida: Cambrian to Recent

Looking for a specimen?

The fossil sponge collection is being digitised

Specimens of the related phyla Archaeocyatha and Stromatopoidea are stored in the same area as the sponges.

The collection is supported by a specialist library.

Major collections

  • Mantell Collection
    Consisting of specimens illustrated in The Fossils of the South Downs.
  • GJ Hinde Collection
    Hinde documented much of the fossil sponge collection. 

Countries of origin

The collection is representative of all continents except Antarctica.


Any questions ?

If you would like to use any specimens for research   

Important historical collections

  • GA Mantell Collection
  • JS Bowerbank
  • J Toulmin Smith
  • GJ Hinde Collection
  • HA Nicholson (Stromatoporids)
  • RG Hudson (Middle East)
  • J Parkinson 

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.