Parasitic worms collection

A tapeworm worm under magnification with a black background.

The Natural History Museum houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of parasitic worms in the world. 

The parasitic worms section includes terrestrial and marine Platyhelminthes (flatworms), parasitic Nematoda (roundworms), Nematophorpha (horsehair worms) and Acanthocephala.

The collection has worldwide coverage and is particularly rich in material from Africa. We hold a large number of species that parasitize marine fishes from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

There are many major personal collections including those of Harry Arnold Baylis, David R. Burt, Otto Fuhrmann, W.Grant Inglis, Clayton Lane, P. Le Roux, P.A. Maplestone, Stanislaw Markowski, F.J. Meggitt, Gwendolyn Rees, C.T.E. von Siebold, T. Southwell, W. Woodland, Mark Viney and Klaus Rohde.


Wet specimens


Slide preparations


Type specimens

~30% of the collection

Specimen breakdown by Phylum

  • Platyhelminthes (flatworms):
    • Cestoda, 135,000 (wet), 50,000 (slides)
    • Monogenea, 1,600 (wet), 15,500 (slides)
    • Tubellaria, 5,000 (wet), 7,000 (slides)
    • Trematoda, 26,000 (wet), 45,000 (slides)
  • Nematoda (roundworms): 85,000 (wet), 45,000 (slides)
  • Nematomorpha (horsehair worms): 560 (wet), 560 (slides)
  • Acanthocephala: 5,000 (wet), 700 (slides)

Important historical collections

  • International Institute of Parasitology type collection
  • Harry Arnold Baylis collection
  • David R. Burt collection
  • Otto Fuhrmann collection
  • W. Grant Inglis collection
  • P. Le Roux collection

Expedition material

  • HMS Discovery Antarctic investigations (1925-1928)
  • Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (B.A.N.Z.A.R.E.) (1929-1930)
  • Terra Nova Antarctic expedition (1910-1913)

Looking for a specimen?

This collection is being digitised

Principal Curator in Charge, Invertebrates (non-insects)

Dr Lauren Hughes

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

Collections on the move

Access to some collections will be affected as we prepare for the move to our new collections, science and digitisation centre.

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.