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

COVID-19 Update September 2020 

As our museum sites slowly begin to ease access restrictions, we are pleased to say that we are now in a position to accept return loans. However, please contact the relevant curator in advance to agree on the procedure for making the return.  We can also consider a few outgoing research loans. In each case we ask you to contact the relevant curator to enquire whether this will be possible. 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 Sciences news

Find out what's happening in our busy Natural Sciences department.

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?
Back to top