Zoology collections

An x-ray of Halieutea liogaster

Halieutea liogaster  © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

The Museum's zoology collection consists of over 29 million animal specimens.

The collection is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens,  as well as extinct and endangered species.

Looking for a specimen ?

The Zoology collection is being digitised

Vertebrate collections


With over one million specimens and representing 95% of bird species, the bird collections are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world. 


Our mammal collections are one of the largest of its kind in the world.


The fish collections include important historical material collected by James Cook, Charles Darwin and Mary Kingsley.


The museum’s large collection of amphibians and reptiles is one the longest maintained collections in the world, originating in the late eighteenth century.

Invertebrate collections


The cnidaria collections include corals, jellyfish, sea anemones, octocorals and hydroids, with approximately 20% of the specimens known to be types.

Bryozoa and Entoprocta

The most significant collection of Bryozoa in the world, containing around 30% type material.


Wide-ranging and rich in Arachnida type specimens.

Small invertebrate phyla

Our collections cover all of the living invertebrate phyla.


Our microbiology collection includes extant protozoan protists.


Comprehensive and significant, the Mollusca collection is in constant demand.


The Crustacean collection contains material across all Orders. 

Parasitic worms

One of the largest and most comprehensive collections of parasitic worms.


Of international importance, containing an estimated 50-70% of the world’s Porifera type material.

Echinodermata and deuterostome invertebrates

Our deuterostome collection invertebrates contains about 10% type material.

Annelida and free-living worms

The Annelida collection, including Echiura, Sipuncula and free-living nematode worms, contains a wealth of important and historic material.

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.

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.