Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Maintenance on this system will make it temporarily unavailable for short periods of time between 8:00 and 10:00 AM EDT this Saturday, 06 June.

Search will be unavailable on Tuesday, 17 April, from 10 to 10:30 AM (EDT)

Paleobiology Collections

The Department of Paleobiology is home to over 40 million specimens, representing fossil invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants from all over the world. Currently, over 450,000 specimen records are available through this online catalog.

Search the Paleobiology Collections

Keyword searches on summary fields can be run from the Keywords Search tab. Searches can be run against specific fields from the Search by Field tab (recommended for best results). If you don't know what to search for, try one of the three sample searches in the Quick Browse list below.

The online catalog does not include all of the specimens housed in the department. All type collections are available; however, some biologic collections have not been inventoried and are not available yet. There are currently only a small number of specimens with images associated with them, although we are continuously adding specimen records and images to the database. If you spot an error in our data, please let us know.


See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).

Quick Browse Searches

Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields. Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists.

Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search terms will be returned.

Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.

Keyword search example: aves united states images

The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table) or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button Change View to cycle between these views.

In Grid View:

In Gallery View:

See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example, Excel.

Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button (Expansion button) in Grid View, or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons (Collapse button) indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).

Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from the column's dropdown menu).

Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the bottom toolbar in Grid or Gallery View.

Here are a few search tips:

To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide a querystring for:

where QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate case-insensitive terms):

It is best to use only letters, numbers, pluses (+), dashes (-), and commas in your querystrings, and to avoid other characters.

Please use the Feedback page to report problems you find with the data, or with using these search pages.