Digitising mesozoic collections

A pilot to digitise all British Mesozoic vertebrate specimens held at the Museum.

We are digitising our country’s amazing collection of dinosaurs, flying reptiles, prehistoric fish, sharks and mammalian ancestors from the Mesozoic era.

The data will help us answer crucial questions about mass extinctions and how species were distributed across our nation millions of years ago.

The British Mesozoic vertebrate collections presented a useful range of digitisation challenges

  • The variety of specimen types, shapes and sizes provided a good test of digitisation workflows.
  • The collections are frequently used by researchers and public engagement.


We tested workflows and develop a long term method.

We also transcribed the data labels from each of the specimens to mobilise data for scientific research.


The data produced by this project will be available to the public via our online portal and will facilitating effective management of the collections.

Digistisation of this collection will facilitate research into

  • the anatomy, functionality, taxonomy, systematics and characteristics of the specimens 
  • species diversity through geological time
  • the effects of the rock record
  • the response to major climatic or extinction events

Project summary

  • Focus: Developing high throughput digitisation pipelines; mobilising data and images
  • Funding: Natural History Museum
  • Start date: Nov 2014
  • End date: May 2016 

Project team

  • Pip Brewer

Digital museum

We are digitising 80 million specimens from our collections to an online data portal.

Digital collections programme

Establishing high-throughput digital capture of different specimen types. 

Palaeontology collections

There are seven million vertebrate, invertebrate and plant fossils in this globally important collection.