National Museums Scotland

Original name(s)

  • National Museums Scotland (en - English)
Institution Address

Chambers Street
EH1 1JF Edinburgh

Main areas of taxonomic expertise

  • Mollusca (focus on Hydrobiids)
  • Diptera (focus on Syrphidae and Sciaroidea)
  • Coleoptera (focus on Silphids)
  • Hymenoptera (focus on Ichneumonidae and Braconidae)
  • Ephemeroptera
  • Fossil invertebrates (focus on Brachiopoda, Arthropoda – including insects)
  • Copepods (focus on Harpactocoida)
  • Polychaetes (focus on Cirratulidae and Polynoidae)
  • Aves (Living and fossil)
  • Mammals (focus on Carnivora, Cetacea and Rodentia)

Type of organisation

Institution Address

Chambers Street
EH1 1JF Edinburgh

Director Representative

Nick Fraser


Structure Chart

Governing & Executive bodies





Staff fields

staff total36.0
scientific staff (permanent)9.0
scientific staff post doc (non permanent)4.0
scientific staff collections (permanent)7.5
scientific staff associated7.0
staff collection managers technicians (permanent)7.0
staff administrative (permanent)1.0
staff exhibitions (permanent)0.5

General Description

  • Research Programme

The research programme at NMS is divided into four major sections: Earth Systems, Palaeobiology, Invertebrates and Vertebrate Biology, Biodiversity and Conservation are two major strands connecting all research programs in the zoological disciplines, with specific research reflecting expertise of the staff and the taxonomic breadth of the collections.

History of collecting runs across all disciplines with noted natural historians such as Louis Dufresne (1752-1832), Robert Jamieson (1774-1854), Hugh Miller (1802-1856), Matthew Forster Heddle (1828-1897) and J.A. Harvie-Brown (1844-1916), and their contributions to the collections of National Museums Scotland.

  • Invertebrates

Invertebrate research centres on the taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of a range of marine and terrestrial groups with global distributions, while also retaining some Scottish focus. There is particular expertise in fungus gnats, hoverflies, Mayflies, parasitic wasps, carrion beetles, mud-snails benthic copepods, and polychaetes. DNA biomonitoring and environmental DNA programmes are in development.

  • Earth Systems

The Earth Systems collections have a major strength in Scottish minerals and ongoing research programmes into rock fault genesis, Pb-rich ore minerals and deep-sea vent mineralisation, erosion processes (terrestrial and Martian), and tectonic geomorphology and uses of minerals in paints and pigments.

  • Palaeobiology

Scotland’s Palaeozoic rocks represent important windows through which crucial stages in the early evolution of life on Earth can be viewed. Our Palaeozoic collections are renowned worldwide for specimens of eurypterids, plants, fishes and early tetrapods. They are central to our research on early vertebrate diversity and evolution, the reconstruction of evolutionary pattern and process, and uses of fossils and systematic methods in evolutionary developmental biology.

Taxonomic expertise in arthropods, brachiopods, and “enigmatic” Palaeozoic fossils sits together with fossil birds, dinosaurs and marine reptiles. There is also a focus on amber deposits including a growing collections of Burmese amber which is a joint programme with Invertebrates.

  • Vertebrate Biology

Core research within Vertebrate Biology looks at hybridisation between native and introduced mammal species, geographical variation and the effects of captivity on mammal and bird skeletal morphology, including ageing and pathology. Other research strands focus on molecular evolution and the biogeography and archaeology of Eurasian mammals, especially rodents and cetaceans.


Link of the Research page : Research page

Link of the Annual report : Annual Reviews


Research Fields

  • Anthropology / Physical anthropology (46.20.00)

Research Initiative

Activities and outreach with Universities

National Museums Scotland is part of the Edinburgh University doctoral training partnesrship


Activities and outreach with other public



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