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Natural Sciences Collections

Our department researches, maintains and monitors National Museums Scotland's Natural Sciences collections.

Our collections are comprehensive in their coverage of the natural world, although Botany is only represented by fossil plants.

Our 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.

Natural Sciences collections are divided into four sections: Earth Systems, Invertebrates, Palaeobiology and Vertebrate Biology.

Our collections and specimens are open to researchers for examination, and we'd be happy to help you conduct research. Please contact our staff to enquire.

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ES Delesse Coll 03 (1)

Earth Systems

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

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1500Beetles (Chrysina)


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

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Our Palaeobiology collections comprise around 250,000 specimens, of which two per cent are very important type or figured specimens. The collection covers all the major groups of fossil invertebrates, vertebrates, plants and trace fossils.

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Beluga whale skull front

Vertebrate Biology

Our 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.

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