Home / Our Science / Land and Marine Geoscience / Paleontology / Online Resources / National Paleontological Collection and Database

National Paleontological Collection and Database

The GNS Science Paleontological Collection, a nationally significant database, includes a large number of type and figured specimens, and comprehensive stratigraphic and geological collections of fossil taxa from New Zealand and its surrounding area (including Antarctica). It also includes extensive molluscan, foraminiferal, and palynological systematic reference collections, important historical collections and foreign reference material.

Click here for a description of the GNS Science paleontological catalogues.

Type of collection Number of
collection lots
Number of
Microfossils 35,000 >3,000,000
Macrofossil invertebrates 43,500 1,200,000
Vertebrates 770 approx. 800
Plant microfossils 24,000 millions
Plant macrofossils 1,450 approx 10,000

The collections are used primarily for research, though some of the more interesting and spectacular specimens are on display at GNS Science, at Te Papa Tongarewa - The Museum of New Zealand, or as part of touring exhibitions around New Zealand.

Arrangement of Collections

General field collections are curated under "collection" accession numbers tied to the New Zealand Fossil Record File (locality based). Material from the general collections identified as type, figured, or referred specimens may be designated numbers from additional specimen based catalogues. World Mollusca and Recent Mollusca reference collections also have separate catalogues. Several of the type collections have published catalogues.


GNS Science, and before that the New Zealand Geological Survey, has developed over many decades a policy to make its fossil specimens available for scientific study, either through access to our collections or through loaning specimens for study off-site.

We welcome visiting paleontologists, and provide space and facilities for examining the fossil material.

Loans of fossils are possible, but in some cases, GNS Science will provide high quality digital images or 3D scans of material in preference to making a loan.

Loans for scientific study are made based on the following guidelines:

  • Loans for bona fide research are made at the discretion of the curator and are normally made to an Institution rather than an individual. Responsibility for care and security of the specimens and for their safe return lies with the borrowing institution.
  • The number of specimens on loan to any one borrower is limited (normally less than 10 at any one time); this applies particularly to overseas borrowers.
  • A Loan Agreement Form, signed by the Paleontology curator, the department head of Paleontology, the borrower and, where appropriate, the department head of the borrowing institution, is required for a loan to be properly implemented.
  • The loan of specimens overseas is subject to the Protected Objects Act, administered by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. GNS Science will make the application for export on your behalf. Read more information about the Protected Objects Act here.
  • The limit on the duration of a loan is normally 6 months.

For more information about the collections or loans, please contact us.