GB3D type fossils online

BGS Data — National Geological Repository

The GB3D type fossils online project, funded by Jisc, has developed a single database of the type specimens held in British collections. These are specifically the type specimens of macrofossil taxa (species and subspecies) found in the UK. The database includes links to photographs, including ‘anaglyph’ stereo pairs, and a selection of 3D digital models.

You can now search for the 3D digital fossil models and photographs from various collections; you can also download and view many on your desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. This may require the installation of a supported web browser or 3D viewer software.

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These fossil images are 3D digital models, produced by laser scanning the original fossils, as part of the Jisc-funded GB3D fossil types project.


The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants require that every species or subspecies of organism, whether living or a fossil, should have a type or reference specimen to define its characteristic features.

These specimens are held in museums and collections around the world and must be available for study.

Many of the UK fossil species were defined over a century ago and, with time, the type specimens may have deteriorated or been lost, causing major problems.

Project partners

The BGS is partnered by:

Together we developed a collaborative database of British type specimens. It built on existing databases, exploring the use of schemas such as ABCDEFG and dictionaries such as the BGS Lexicon and Rock Classification Scheme (RCS) for the transmission and sharing of data.

The Geological Curators’ Group extended the partnership to local museums and other organisations holding type fossils.

The results are available through a single, searchable, web database. It includes links to view or download high-quality images, stereo-pairs (anaglyphs) and digital models. Images are delivered in JPEG2000 format via the BGS large image server and digital models are available in .PLY and .OBJ formats.

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BGS at the Natural History Museum.

It also includes the ability to store and download other data types, as diverse as X-ray images and links to scans of original papers.

Get in touch

For general NGR enquiries or to arrange a visit, please contact: or 0115 936 3143

Dr Mike Howe, Chief Curator

Telephone: 0115 936 3105

Alison Steven, Senior Records Manager

Telephone: 0131 6500 434

Andrew Morrison, Archivist

Telephone: 0115 936 3247

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