The Natural History Museum

Have you ever held an actual fossil or mineral? How did you know it was a fossil? What is a fossil? Do you know why minerals are important and that we can even search for them in space!

At the Natural History Museum in London, we ask questions about specimens like fossils and minerals every single day. The Museum has millions of objects, which include everything from fossils to butterflies to meteorites and minerals. We are bringing some exciting things to Lyme Regis.  Drop in to our hands-on activities lead by Museum scientists where you can explore fossils and other amazing treasures from our famous collections.  Learn to use questions and other scientific ideas to examine specimens to learn more about the natural world and be like a Museum Scientist for yourself.

Metals and minerals – from the sub-surface to outer space!

Metals exist on Earth in a whole host of mineral compositions. They are found on the terrestrial surface and sub-surface, and throughout human history, they have been extracted in different ways and utilised for a vast range of purposes. This exhibit examines various types of metallic minerals, their origins and their uses and there will be some fun activities to demonstrate the paths that minerals take (e.g. volcanic eruptions from the sub-surface to the surface!) and the kind of processing that is often used (e.g. physical separation by sieving). The exhibit will go beyond the Earth and highlight the similarities and differences on the Moon and other planetary bodies. In the current golden age of space exploration, applying what we have learnt on Earth is more relevant than ever.


Learn about the Earth’s interior and the different plate tectonic boundaries. By using simple models we will explain how volcanoes form in different geological settings and discuss the relationship between volcanoes and earthquakes. We will simulate volcanic eruptions with a model. There will be a range of volcanic rocks to see and you will be able to discuss the different processes that led to the formation of these different rocks. You will also have the opportunity to learn about how these processes and rocks exist on other planets!

Sample Analogues and Space Exploration

Find out more about how the European Space Agency (ESA) prepares for its scientific and exploration missions into outer space! Sample analogues are terrestrial rock and soils that are similar to the rock and soils found on other planets. We will show you analogue specimens and tell you all about how they formed and which planets they relate to (e.g. Icelandic basalts similar to Martian basalts formed from volcanic activity). You will also learn about the type of minerals that we expect to find in rock and soils on other planetary bodies (e.g. Titanium in basalts on the Moon). In addition, you can experience and learn about how the Curiosity rover on Mars uses its sieve to separate sand grains into different sizes while exploring the Martian surface!

From colour to strength – in search for cobalt and other metals essential in our everyday life

You will learn about important metals used in everyday life, some of them essential to our health such as cobalt, copper and iron. You will learn where metals come from, how volcanic activity helps bring some of those to the Earth surface and how and where we search for them. There will be a range of interesting minerals on display which are natural sources of metals. Many of those come from the Earth surface but you will also see metal rich nodules found at the bottom of the deep-sea floor, hidden thousands of kilometres under the water surface!  You will also have a chance to try if you can identify some common minerals using simple mineral properties.
We will discuss how minerals are processed to retrieve the metals of interest and how do we ensure adequate supplies of critical metals such as cobalt for the future. Finally you will discover which of the metals and minerals common on Earth can also be found on other planets and how widespread they are in space!

Shark tooth detectives

Go hands-on with real fossil specimens from the museum’s collection, and get stuck in with some palaeontological detective work deducing the diets of prehistoric and recent sharks based on their teeth.


Bring your fossil and rock finds to the NHM experts and learn how to identify what you have found and how best to care for it.

Abbey Wood Sieving Activity

Sieving and identifying real fossil sharks’ teeth and shells from a 54 million year old fossil bed using an identification guide and modern comparative material.  Visitors will be encouraged to discuss “what is a fossil?”, how fossils are named, deep time and sea level change.

Children (and adults) will be given the opportunity to experience palaeontology first hand.  Apart from rare mammal and reptile remains, everything you find you may keep.


Fossil Explorer App – Uncover the ancient plant and animal fossils hidden beneath your feet.

Fossil Explorer is a field guide to the common fossils of Britain and will help you identify fossils based on where you find them. The app uses a geological map to plot the rocks present at your chosen location and provides a list of fossils known to occur in rocks of the same age.

Whether you want to discover ammonites along Dorset’s Jurassic coast, marine reptiles in Whitby or trilobites in Wales, this app can tell you more about your fossil finds.

Fossil facts and illustrations will help beginner fossil hunters get started, while specimen details will help more experienced fossil collectors delve deeper.

For more information, visit

Legs, tentacles or leaves?

We are all familiar with the shells and bones left by ancient animals, but do you know what they looked like in life? And how do scientists know? Test your knowledge and imagination with our drawing challenge where your only clues are fossils left behind in the rocks. Talk to our scientists about the techniques they use to reconstruct the animals and plants of the past.

Elephant teeth evolution and UK examples

Did you know that UK has hosted five species of elephants at one time or another? These include four species of mammoth and one more elephant species.

Come and find out more about their evolution and the stories we can tell by looking their teeth. Elephant’s evolution began in Africa, where successive species arose and spread out around the globe. The first true elephant (belonging to the same family as living elephants today), Stegotetrabelodon evolved around 7.5-4.5 million years ago in East Africa. It had four tusks in total. Stegotetrabelodon led to three branches of the proboscideans the mammoths (Mammuthus), Asian elephants (Elephas) and African elephants (Loxodonta), while the mastodon (Mammut) had a much more ancient ancestry. The genus Elephas migrated east out of Africa in a couple of waves of migration, resulting in the evolution of the straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon).

Evolution of mammalian teeth

In the shadow of the dinosaurs, Mesozoic mammals were tiny, but we know a lot about their teeth and jaws. So we can trace their evolution from simple slicing teeth to ones with an ability to crush and grind too, providing evidence for changing diets. Enlarged models of these early dentitions make it easier to understand their evolutionary development. We can demonstrate this by using them in a puzzle. Try associating upper and lower jaws of a variety of primitive mammals, by working out how their teeth fit together for chewing.

Diplodocus the inside story

Get up close and learn more about one of the most iconic dinosaurs, the Diplodocus, like our world famous ‘Dippy’ model which is currently touring the UK.

You will be able to look closely at lots of specimens and hear about what made Diplodocus so special.

Extinction Kerplunk!

How will climate change affect the oceans? Using a simple hands-on model made of plastic straws and modern sea shells you can do your own experiments to investigate how the rate and amount of global warming might affect the diversity and size of marine animals. You will be able to compare the results of your experiments to predictions that scientists are making for the future as well as to fossil evidence from past episodes of global warming.

Dino CSI


Using the skills and tools that palaeontologists use, visitors will perform a ‘dig’ to unveil hidden dinosaur bones. Visitors will observe, draw and gather evidence about their specimens to make meaning of their discovery; what did they eat? What did they look like? Where did they live? Throughout the activity visitors will discover how scientists learn about the reptiles that dominated the Earth for 160 million years.



Get your hands on million year old fossils and discover what links them to creatures that are still alive today.

The Royal Microscopic Society (RMS)

Hands-on use of the RMS Microscope Activity Kit – everything that you need to deliver exciting activities linked to the Primary School National Curriculum. The scheme is completely free to Schools, funded entirely by the RMS.