Invertebrate and plant palaeobiology

A trilobite fossil

Trilobite, William Smith fossil © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

We use the Museum's fossil invertebrate, micropalaeontology and palaeobotany collections to unravel the origins and evolution of these groups. 

Palaeobotany research

Our research focuses on the origins of land-dwelling plants during the Palaeozoic Era, and the co-evolution of plants and animals during the Mesozoic Era.

Co-evolution of plants and soils: a comparative approach

Comparing 400-million-year-old fossil soils and modern analogues to learn more about the early evolution of life on land.

Reading the rocks

Exploring the origins and early diversification of plant and arthropod life on land. 

Mesozoic forests of Britain

Investigating the productivity of important Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous forests of southern England. 

Unlocking the vault: UK plant collections

Extracting flowering time data from our collection of 610,000 British and Irish plant specimens to study the phenology of selected orchid species.

Dinosaur and plant co-evolution

Investigating the extent to which the evolution of dinosaur diversity and physiology was dependent on plants.


Using fossils to investigate the origin and evolution of relationships between plants and microorganisms during the early development of life on land.

Micropalaeontology research

The Museum's huge microfossil collection is helping us to reconstruct past environments and locate hydrocarbon reserves buried deep underground.

Conodont research

Our conodont research focuses on several important Ordovician and Silurian faunas from the Middle East.

Ostracod research

Current ostracod research projects at the Museum focus on Silurian ostracods from the Canadian Arctic and Iran.

Arthropod research

We are studying arthropod phylogeny, the palaeobiology, systematics, evolution and biogeography of trilobites, ostracod taxonomy and palaeobiology, and centipede systematics.

Trilobite research

We study trilobites from four periods of the Palaeozoic: the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian.

Centipede systematics

Our research on centipedes (Chilopoda) includes studies on deep phylogeny and phylogeography, the taxonomy of most major groups, comparative morphology, and palaeontology, including amber fossils from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.

Marine invertebrate research

Our vast collections are supporting a range of research projects on bryozoans, molluscs, echinoderms and corals in the fossil record.

Echinoderm research

Focusing on the diversification and evolution of various groups during the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic, particularly starfish, brittle stars, crinoids and the extinct edrioasteroids.

Conulariid research

Researching the various aspects of conulariid taxonomy and palaeobiology, including the microstructure of the shell and developmental loss of symmetry.

Bryozoan skeletal mineralogy and ocean acidification

Investigating the timing of a switch towards aragonite skeletons in certain Late Cretaceous bryozoans, and the relationship of this switch to changing seawater chemistry.

Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Investigating the response of organisms to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the most rapid and significant climatic warming pulse of the past 65 million years.

Evolution and taxonomy of Mesozoic bryozoans

  Bryozoans, especially cheilostomes, diversified significantly during the mid-late Mesozoic.

Research on reef corals and coral reefs

Studying fossil corals to understand the biological consequences of past environmental changes. 

MART analysis

Cheilostome bryozoans offer a powerful method for estimating temperature seasonality in the past.

Palaeontology collections

Discover our vertebrate, invertebrate and plant fossil collections.

Palaeobotany collection

A collection with excellent geographic, stratigraphic and historical coverage.

The Data Portal

Explore and download the Museum’s research and collections data.


Undertake professional and postgraduate training in invertebrate and plant palaeobiology.

Core research labs

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