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Earth Sciences

Our Earth Sciences collection is made up of our Pre-historic Life and Rocks and Minerals collections. Highlights on display include our T.rex and Plesiosaur (due to be redisplayed in Jan 2012).

The Manchester Museum has an amazing collection approximately 140,000 fossils, rocks and minerals. They are from all over the world and help us understand the diversity of life on Earth and how our planet has changed over millions of years.
•    Many of the best specimens are on display in the fossil and mineral galleries. If you’d like to look at  other parts of the collection please get in touch: david.gelsthorpe@manchester.ac.uk
•    Keep up with the Curator of Earth Science Collections, David Gelsthorpe on the PalaeoManchester Blog


The Manchester Museum has a collection of around 100,000 fossils ranging from fossil aglae from the dawn of life billions of years ago, to ferns, mammoths and dinosaurs. 
The first elements of the palaeontology collections were assembled by the Manchester Society of Natural History, which formed in 1821. Additional material was added in 1850 from the collections of the Manchester Geological and Mining Society. Particularly important parts of the collection are:
•          William Boyd-Dawkins collection of British cave fossils from Creswell Crags, Windy Knoll in Derbyshire and other caves.
•           Plant and invertebrate fossils from the Carboniferous , collected by W.C. Williamson, J. Wilfred Jackson, G. Wild, and R.M.C.Eagar.
•           Jurassic ammonites collected by S. S. Buckman.
•           Reptile footprints from the Triassic of Merseyside and Cheshire.
•           Fossil plants and fishes from the Old Red Sandstone collected by G.H. Hickling and D.M.S. Watson
•           Invertebrate fossils of the Lower Palaeozoic of the Midlands and Wales collected by D. Homfray
•           Our type and figured specimens are available online


The Manchester Museum mineral collection contains a wide range of objects, which include meteorites, gemstones, ore samples and rare minerals.
Highlights of the collection are from:
•    the iron mines of South and West Cumbria for calcite and barite
•    Caldbeck Fells, in the Lake District, for beautifully coloured lead, copper and zinc;
•    The North Pennine Orefield, including the mines of Alston Moor and Weardale, has produced fluorite of many colours and superb examples of barium minerals witherite, barytocalcite and alstonite.
•    The museum also has important collections from western Scotland; the Alderley Edge mines, Cheshire; the mines of Derbyshire; the Republic of Ireland; central Europe, and south America.
•    The Howard Axon meteorite collection

Major collectors include:

•    William Boyd Dawkins
•    Henry Francis Harwood
•    Caroline Birley
•    David Forbes
•    George Wild
•    Mark Stirrup


The Manchester Museum petrology collection was begun in the early part of the nineteenth century by the Manchester Natural History Society.  It contains a diverse range of objects, which include:
•    building stones,
•    volcanic rocks,
•    metamorphic rocks
•    sedimentary rocks
•    cave formations
•    geological structures
•    coal collection

The collection includes key historical objects such as the borehole sediments taken during the surveying for the Channel Tunnel, by William Boyd Dawkins in 1882.