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natural sciences collections

The Northern Territory is an incredibly diverse part of Australia and the faunal collections at MAGNT reflect the diversity of wildlife from the region. With specimens from the arid centre to the tropical north, from tiny insects to large whales, the Natural Science Collections are a permanent and accessible record of the animals found within the Northern Territory and adjacent seas.


MAGNT has curatorial expertise in palaeontology and marine taxonomy and systematics, which are underpinned by substantial collections of the Northern Territory and region’s fishes, molluscs, echinoderms, corals, sponges, crustaceans and marine worms. The reptile, amphibian, mammal, bird and terrestrial invertebrate collections are also significant, with extensive holdings of the northern and central Australian fauna. Specimens are variously held as wet preserved, dry, study skins or skeletal material and there is a growing collection of ethanol preserved tissue samples for genetic work.


A large collection of fossil material, with an emphasis on the extinct megafauna from the Northern Territory, is held at the Museum of Central Australia in Alice Springs. The historically important Finlayson Collection of arid zone mammals is also kept there.


We are involved in the Bush Blitz nature discovery project to document the fauna of several remote Northern Territory locations. Significant collections of northern Australian sea sponges and soft corals were made during a project for the US National Cancer Institute, in the search for new medical drugs derived from natural sources.


The collections and their data are an important resource for researching biodiversity and species distributions over time and are also used to provide information on the effects of climate change, pollution, pest species, and changing fire or grazing regimes. As new scientific techniques are developed, such as advances in DNA analysis, the collections will continue to yield new information over many years to come.


Collections Management staff develop and care for the specimen collections and associated data, and make them accessible to researchers and students. Specimens and tissues are available for loan to institutions upon request and visiting researchers are encouraged.


Visitors can see a variety of Northern Territory wildlife on display in the Transformations and Ramp Galleries, while Sweetheart, our iconic Estuarine crocodile, is a favourite attraction.


MAGNT welcomes public enquiries, including animal identification requests by phoning, emailing a clear photograph or bringing the specimen to MAGNT during weekday opening hours. Please contact first to make arrangements.


Most of our specimen information can be freely accessed online through the Atlas of Living Australia where anyone can explore and analyse the data using a variety of digital tools.

You can view our natural sciences collections online at the

Google Cultural Institute


MAGNT. Darwin

MAGNT Senior Collections Manager Gavin Dally using a benthic grab to sample seabed life.

Image: National Oceans Office

MAGNT. Darwin

MAGNT Technical Officer Sue Horner sorting samples collected from a bottom trawl.

Image: National Oceans Office

MAGNT. Darwin

Links to Factsheets of common enquires received by MAGNT


Northern Mouse spider


Fossil Mudlobster


Pig-nosed turtle




Box Jellyfish


One of the largest species in the Entomology collection is the Darwin Stick insect.

MAGNT. Darwin

For enquiries please contact:


Suzanne Horner

Senior Collections Manager, Natural Sciences 

Phone: (08) 8999 8247

MAGNT. Darwin

The Wetstore contains thousands of jars of preserved scientific reference specimens.

MAGNT. Darwin

Swimmer crabs collected during a MAGNT survey off the Arnhem Land coast.

Image: National Oceans Office

Study skins, such as this Brush-tailed possum, contain a wealth of information.

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