Wondrous Nature

Collection by National Museums Scotland

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Our Natural Sciences collections cover both life sciences and earth sciences. These boards share some of the beautiful pieces in National Museums Scotland's collection. https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore

National Museums Scotland
Fossils
Beautiful Bugs
Minerals
Timeless Trees

Fossils

Cast of fossil Ediacaran biota, Charnia sp., from the Ediacaran Period (Precambrian) of Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, England

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil ammonite, Ammonoidea indet., from the Triassic Period of Halstatt, Austria

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Aeger sp., fossil crustacean, from lithographic limestone of the Tithonian Age of Solnhofen, Germany

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil ammonite, Xenostephanus aff. anceps, from the Upper Jurassic of Eathie Haven, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Limestone, coral - brown, dark brown and grey - with various fossil corals - possibly from Devon, England

Limestone, coral

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil ammonite, Ammonoidea indet., from the Jurassic Period of Whitby, Yorkshire, England

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Ogygopsis klotzi, fossil trilobite, from the Cambrian Period of Canada

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil mesosaur (marine reptile), Stereosternum sp., from the Permian Period of Goias State, Brazil

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Glossopteris sp., fossil seed fern, in green shale slab, from the Permian Period of Hunter River, New South Wales, Australia

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil gastropod, Straparollus sp., from the Carboniferous Period of Millicent, County Kildare, Ireland

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil Ediacaran biota, Dickinsonia sp., from the Ediacaran Period (Precambrian) of Australia

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil ammonite, Harpoceras falcifer, calcite shell in limestone matrix, from the Upper Lias of the Jurassic Period of Rothersthorpe, Nottinghamshire, England

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil stem-amniote tetrapod, Casineria kiddi, part, from the Visean Age (early Carboniferous) of Cheese Bay, Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil goniatite, Goniatites sphaericus, from the Carboniferous Limestone of the Mississippian Epoch (early Carboniferous) of Poolvash, Isle of Man

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil heart sea-urchin, Micraster cortestudinarium, from the Upper Cretaceous Epoch of England

Explore our collections

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Beautiful Bugs

Butterflies in the National Museums Collection Centre.

Butterflies in the National Museums Collection Centre.

Liucija and Nicolas from Edinburgh College of Art's print inspired by a visit to our entomology store at National Museums Scotland.

Coleopterology to Couture Part 2: The creations take shape!

Back in October, Fashion, Textile and Costume students from Edinburgh College of Art visited our entomology store at the collections centre, where they were encouraged to study, photograph and touch the insects. Here’s a link to the original article. A few months on I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the finished art work … Continued

Anoplognathus viridiaeneus, scarab beetle, two dried specimens

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Beetles from our insect collections at National Museums Scotland

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

Goliathus regius, Goliath beetle, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil long-horn beetle (Cerambycidae) in an amber-coloured piece of Mexican amber, of Miocene (Burdigalian-Langhian) age from Simojovel, Chiapas State, Mexico

Spider-hunting wasp from our insect collections at National Museums Scotland

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

An example of insect-inspired prints by Fashion, Textile and Costume students from Edinburgh College of Art, who visited our entomology store at National Museums Scotland.

An example of insect-inspired prints by Fashion, Textile and Costume students from Edinburgh College of Art, who visited our entomology store at National Museums Scotland.

Acanthophorus serraticornis, longhorn beetle, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Sketching butterflies within the National Museums Scotland entomology store.

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

Australian Jewel beetle, dried specimen, Australia

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

A drawer of beetles (Goliathus regius)

Entomologists Show & Tell

Introduction to the Care of Entomology Collections was a workshop aimed at non-entomologists with responsibility for insect collections in Scotland. It was hosted by the Entomology team (myself, Steve Hewitt and Richard Lyszkowski), on the 3 March 2016. This was part of National Museums Scotland’s National Training Programme, organised by the National & International Partnerships department. These … Continued

Antheraea polyphemus, wild silk moth, male, dried specimen. Female wild silk moths produce a chemical pheromone which attracts male moths for mating. Males can find females up to 4.5 kilometres away. Their antennae are very sensitive, with hair-like receptors that respond to a single molecule of pheromone. To make sure that they do not miss a female’s attractive perfume, the antennae are shaped like feathers to maximize the surface area.

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

This is a view inside one of the specimen drawers in #entomology. #EdsciFest #museumtour #Edinburgh #Scotland #museums #edscifest

Instagram post by National Museums Scotland • Apr 8, 2016 at 10:47am UTC

133 Likes, 1 Comments - National Museums Scotland (@nationalmuseumsscotland) on Instagram: “This is a view inside one of the specimen drawers in #entomology. #EdsciFest #museumtour #Edinburgh…”

Smerinthus ocellata, eyed hawk moth, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Coccinella septempunctata, seven-spot ladybird, dried specimen

Papilio multicaudata, two-tailed swallowtail butterfly, dried specimen, Mexico

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil parasitic wasp (Apocrita indet.), ant (Formicidae indet.) and spider (Araneae indet.), in large yellow and brown amber, from the La Pimienta Mine, near Simojovel, Chiapas, Southern Mexico

Fossil dragonfly, Odonata indet., from the Jurassic Period of Solenhofen, Bavaria, Germany

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Goliathus regius, Goliath beetle, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

A collection of blown caterpillars

Entomologists Show & Tell

Introduction to the Care of Entomology Collections was a workshop aimed at non-entomologists with responsibility for insect collections in Scotland. It was hosted by the Entomology team (myself, Steve Hewitt and Richard Lyszkowski), on the 3 March 2016. This was part of National Museums Scotland’s National Training Programme, organised by the National & International Partnerships department. These … Continued

Sterling silver dragonfly brooch with four wings, tapered body and turquoise eyes, stamped throughout: USA, New Mexico, Navajo, maker unknown, c. 1940s

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Cordulegaster boltonii, golden-ringed dragonfly, dried specimen, Glen Lochay, Killin, Perthshire, 20 July 1912

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Lethocerus sp., giant water bug, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Caligo sp., owl butterfly, dried specimen, Peru

Rhinocerus beetle

Woodblock depicting a dragonfly, wood, one of a collection of woodblocks of illustrations used by W. & R. Chambers Ltd, 1840s - early 20th century

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Caligo memnon, owl butterfly, dried specimen

Fossil "flying" ant (Formicidae indet.) and other inclusions, in greenish-yellow amber, from Chiapas, Southern Mexico

Megaloprepus caerulatus, damselfly, dried specimen. Insects evolved the ability to fly over 400 million years ago and today there are so many flying insects, it is not known how many millions of species there are.

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Morpho Butterflies

Entomologists Show & Tell

Introduction to the Care of Entomology Collections was a workshop aimed at non-entomologists with responsibility for insect collections in Scotland. It was hosted by the Entomology team (myself, Steve Hewitt and Richard Lyszkowski), on the 3 March 2016. This was part of National Museums Scotland’s National Training Programme, organised by the National & International Partnerships department. These … Continued

Noctua fimbriata, broad-bordered yellow underwing moth, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Indian beetle head

Indian beetle head

Indian beetle head. ---------- This object featured in the exhibition 'Treasured: Wonderful Things, Amazing Stories' at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. To find out more about the exhibition, visit our website.

Catocala nupta, red underwing moth, two dried specimens

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Inachis io, peacock butterfly, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Xylocopa sp., carpenter bee, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Scolia procera, digger wasp, dried specimen, India

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Coracina beetle, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Tropidacris dux, grasshopper, dried specimen.  Some insects have big eye spots on their bodies which they flash at predators, hoping to scare them away. Predators may think that these eyes belong to bigger animals or the flash of these bright patches could just be used to startle.

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Bombus lapidarius, red-tailed bumble bee, dried specimen, Cambridge, 23 April 1930

Achatinella sp., Hawaiian tree snail, shell, six specimens

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Instagram post by National Museums Scotland • Apr 11, 2016 at 1:47pm UTC

121 Likes, 1 Comments - National Museums Scotland (@nationalmuseumsscotland) on Instagram: “In our latest blog, Ashleigh Whiffin shares more about a recent workshop hosted by the Entomology…”

Lepidoptera indet., butterfly, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Drupadia ravindra, hairstreak butterfly, dried specimen

Tefflus meyerlei, ground beetle, dried specimen, West Africa

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Phyllium giganteum, leaf insect, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Seeing ultraviolet! Many insects have photoreceptors in their eyes that detect ultraviolet. Flowers can send secret signals, with ultraviolet nectar guides that show butterflies where to feed. This is an Apricot male sulphur butterfy, Phoebis argante, from Paraguay in South America. See it on Level 3 of our Natural World gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Limnetis archippus, viceroy butterfly, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Arctia caja, garden tiger moth

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Ornithoptera goliath, Goliath birdwing butterfly, male, dried specimen, bred Mansuela Range, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, October 1988

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Morpho butterfly

Beautiful butterfly

Butterfly. ---------- This object featured in the exhibition 'Treasured: Wonderful Things, Amazing Stories' at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Sphex lobatus, blue wasp, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Sketching butterflies within the Entomology store at National Museums Scotland

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

Dragonfly, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Cepaea nemoralis, brown lipped snail, dried specimens

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Pavonia pavonia, emperor moth caterpillar, dried specimen, June 1947

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil fly (Muscidae indet.) and two beetles (Scolytinae indet.), in yellow translucent amber, locality unknown

Rhinocerus beetle, dried specimen, Sumatra

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Heteropteryx dilatata, stick insect, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Danaus plexippus, monarch butterfly, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

The Mexican Silverspot, Dione moneta, is a species of butterfly known for the brilliance of its silvery spots on the underside of the wings. It can be found from the southern United States through to South America. This particular specimen is one of 11 Mexican Silverspot butterflies in the museum’s collection and once formed part of the original insect displays. The impressive silver spots are the result of hundreds of tiny scales which coat the wings and form the patterns. Some of the…

Search our collections

The Mexican Silverspot, Dione moneta, is a species of butterfly known for the brilliance of its silvery spots on the underside of the wings. It can be found from the southern United States through to South America. This particular specimen is one of 11 Mexican Silverspot butterflies in the museum’s collection and once formed part of the original insect displays. The impressive silver spots are the result of hundreds of tiny scales which coat the wings and form the patterns. Some of the…

Minerals

See more

Timeless Trees

See more
Butterflies in the National Museums Collection Centre.

Butterflies in the National Museums Collection Centre.

Liucija and Nicolas from Edinburgh College of Art's print inspired by a visit to our entomology store at National Museums Scotland.

Coleopterology to Couture Part 2: The creations take shape!

Back in October, Fashion, Textile and Costume students from Edinburgh College of Art visited our entomology store at the collections centre, where they were encouraged to study, photograph and touch the insects. Here’s a link to the original article. A few months on I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the finished art work … Continued

Anoplognathus viridiaeneus, scarab beetle, two dried specimens

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Beetles from our insect collections at National Museums Scotland

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

Goliathus regius, Goliath beetle, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Fossil long-horn beetle (Cerambycidae) in an amber-coloured piece of Mexican amber, of Miocene (Burdigalian-Langhian) age from Simojovel, Chiapas State, Mexico

Spider-hunting wasp from our insect collections at National Museums Scotland

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

An example of insect-inspired prints by Fashion, Textile and Costume students from Edinburgh College of Art, who visited our entomology store at National Museums Scotland.

An example of insect-inspired prints by Fashion, Textile and Costume students from Edinburgh College of Art, who visited our entomology store at National Museums Scotland.

Acanthophorus serraticornis, longhorn beetle, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Sketching butterflies within the National Museums Scotland entomology store.

Coleopterology to Couture… or inspirational insects

Recently, Costume, Fashion and Textiles students from Edinburgh College of Art have been visiting the Collections Centre to study our insect collections. This has been a collaboration between Edinburgh Art College, Scott Neil in Learning and Programmes, Richard Lyszkowski, the Assistant Curator of Entomology, and myself in Collections Management. Twenty-seven budding Alexander McQueens have spent … Continued

Australian Jewel beetle, dried specimen, Australia

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

A drawer of beetles (Goliathus regius)

Entomologists Show & Tell

Introduction to the Care of Entomology Collections was a workshop aimed at non-entomologists with responsibility for insect collections in Scotland. It was hosted by the Entomology team (myself, Steve Hewitt and Richard Lyszkowski), on the 3 March 2016. This was part of National Museums Scotland’s National Training Programme, organised by the National & International Partnerships department. These … Continued

Antheraea polyphemus, wild silk moth, male, dried specimen. Female wild silk moths produce a chemical pheromone which attracts male moths for mating. Males can find females up to 4.5 kilometres away. Their antennae are very sensitive, with hair-like receptors that respond to a single molecule of pheromone. To make sure that they do not miss a female’s attractive perfume, the antennae are shaped like feathers to maximize the surface area.

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

This is a view inside one of the specimen drawers in #entomology. #EdsciFest #museumtour #Edinburgh #Scotland #museums #edscifest

Instagram post by National Museums Scotland • Apr 8, 2016 at 10:47am UTC

133 Likes, 1 Comments - National Museums Scotland (@nationalmuseumsscotland) on Instagram: “This is a view inside one of the specimen drawers in #entomology. #EdsciFest #museumtour #Edinburgh…”

Smerinthus ocellata, eyed hawk moth, dried specimen

Rhinocerus beetle

Every object in our collection has a story to tell. Discover some of the most treasured, unusual and ground-breaking here.

Coccinella septempunctata, seven-spot ladybird, dried specimen