Our Natural Sciences collections cover both life sciences and earth sciences.

COVID-19 Update January 2021

With renewed government restrictions, until further notice, we are currently unable to accept return loans or make any new outgoing research loans. 

If you have any collections based queries we ask you to contact the relevant curator. If you require any further assistance please contact Dr Nick Fraser (nick.fraser@nms.ac.uk).

The Natural Sciences collections are comprehensive in their coverage of the natural world, although Botany is only represented by fossil plants. The collections are global in terms of their content and most of the several million specimens held originate from efforts to better understand the Natural World.

The collections are divided into four sections: Earth Systems, Invertebrates, Palaeobiology and Vertebrate Biology. If you have any requirements to examine any of our specimens you should contact the relevant Principal Curator in the first instance.


Keeper of Natural Sciences

Dr Nick Fraser  

Responsible for: the Natural Sciences department, its staff, collections and projects.
Email: nick.fraser@nms.ac.uk

Earth Systems

The Earth Systems collection of around 70,000 specimens represents Scotland’s geological history and global mineralogical diversity.


The Invertebrate collections date from the mid-1800s and include samples of many different groups of animals.


The Palaeobiology collection covers all the major groups of fossil invertebrates, vertebrates, plants and trace fossils.

Vertebrate Biology

The Vertebrate Biology collections comprise more than 200,000 specimens from around the world, including skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, wet specimens, tissue samples, fossils and archaeological remains.

Natural World galleries

A giant T.rex guards our Natural World galleries, where we ask the big questions: how does the world work? What do we know about it? What is our place in the universe?
Contact us

Rachel Russell
Department Administrator

Tel. 0131 247 4228

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