Natural History

Our natural science collections comprise over 20,000 specimens gathered in the last two hundred years. East Yorkshire is abundant with wildlife and rich natural landscapes. Our collections reflect this diversity of animals, plants, rocks, minerals and fossils.

The world around us is full of incredible animals and plants. To understand the variety of natural life on our planet (past and present), scientists often turn to museum collections. And so can you, by exploring all the weird and wonderful things in our collections.

Books about flowers

Zoology Collection

Zoology is a branch of biology dealing specifically with animals. It was first established as a science in German and English universities, and often connected to medical training. 

Zoology collections include skins, skeletons and taxidermy (stuffed and mounted) specimens. Such specimens span mammals, reptiles, birds, eggs and collections of shells.

Zoology also incorporates entomological collections. These are insects preserved in spirit or pinned in drawers. Insects date back 400 million years and are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. 75% of all animal species are insects! You can see the diversity of Britain's insects in our collection. We have specimens ranging from Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants) to Coleoptera (beetles) and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).

Botany Collection

Botany is the scientific study of plant life. It examines plants' growth, reproduction and evolutionary relationships. The study of plants began with tribal lore, which was a way to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. 

Plants are often collected and stored in a herbarium as dried and pressed specimens. Our collections hold many herbaria from mosses, ferns and conifers to flowering plants. Local collections include Dawson's seaweeds and H.D. Stanley's grasses and flowering plants. As well as Eva Crackles' extensive collection of flora from East Yorkshire.

Geology Collection

Geology is the scientific study of the earth's 4.6 billion-year history. The word literally means "discourse about the earth". Geology involves the study of rocks, minerals and fossils. This helps us understand how our planet evolved and what might happen to it in the future.

Clays and chalks from the Jurassic (250 million years ago) and Cretaceous (142 million years ago) periods dominate Hull and East Yorkshire. There are also glacial deposits from the Quaternary Period (1.8 million years ago).

Common fossils found in the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks nearby are marine invertebrates. For example, ammonites, belemnites, bivalves and echinoids. There are also vertebrate fossils of fish, sharks and marine reptiles. The ice age left many glacial rock deposits of boulder clay in the area. These deposits sometimes contain woolly mammoth and woolly rhino remains. 

Our geological collections reflect the age and type of fossils found in the Hull area. They also include a range of rock and mineral specimens, and even meteorites!