Small invertebrate phyla

Sliced and dyed sections of Peripatus moseleyi, a velvet worm, prepared on slides.

Our collections cover all of the living invertebrate phyla, including Onychophora (velvet worms), Chaetognatha (arrow worms), Gastrotricha (hairybacks), Kinorhyncha (mud dragons), Nemertea (ribbon worms), Phoronida (horseshoe worms), Priapulida (penis worms), Rotifera (wheel animals) and Tardigrada (water bears).

Specimen breakdown by phylum

  • Onychophora (velvet worms): 1,500 (wet and slides)
  • Chaetognatha (arrow worms): 750,000 (wet), 225 (slides)
  • Gastrotricha (hairybacks): 80 (wet and slides)
  • Kinorhyncha (mud dragons): 13 (slides)
  • Nemertea (ribbon worms): 360 (wet), 500 (slides) 
  • Phoronida (horseshoe worms): 1,700 (wet), 184 (slides)
  • Priapulida (penis worms): 50 (wet), 100 (slides)
  • Rotifera (wheel animals): 260 (wet), 5,250 (slides)
  • Tardigrada (water bears): 287 (wet and slides)

Looking for a specimen?

This collection is being digitised

Senior curator (Nemertea, Phoronida, Priapulida)

Emma Sherlock

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Senior curator (Onychophora, Tardigrada)

Jan Beccaloni

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Principle curator (Gastrotricha, Kinorhyncha, Rotifera)

Miranda Lowe

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Principal Curator in Charge, Invertebrates (non-insects)

Dr Lauren Hughes

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Core research labs and consulting

Our research lab teams are available for complex on-site imaging and analysis of biological and geological samples.

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 at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire by 2026. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected.

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