Bryozoans form colonies of a few centimetres composed of many separate units called zooids. The colonies are encrusting, erect or arborescent. Brachiopods are all marine. The animal is covered in a shell consisting of two valves. They have a characteristic organ called the Iophorephore, composed of a buccal crown with two arms.
The Muséum’s collection of bryozoans and brachiopods contains over 30,000 lots (25,000 bryozoans and 6,000 brachiopods).
It is one of the richest in the world in type specimens:
- bryozoans: 1,385 lots corresponding to 790 species
- brachiopods: 150 type lots corresponding to 60 species.
Only a few dozen specimens belong to other groups (Phoronida, Pterobranchia, Enteropneusta) among which there are 5 type specimens. This collection is essential for researchers interested in Atlantic and Mediterranean bryozoans, or in brachiopods from the Indo-Pacific and deep sea environments. In 1968, there were 2,000 lots in the collection; in 2013, there were 25,000. It has grown recently thanks to oceanographic campaigns conducted in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
The first part of the brachiopod material entered the collection in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It consists almost exclusively of dry material. The second part of the collection, which has been incorporated since 1968, mainly includes specimens in alcohol. Finally, the third part includes material gathered during major oceanographic expeditions in the past 30 years. These recent collections have provided the bulk of the new species of brachiopods described in the past 20 years.
The bryozoan collection has been formed by gradually building upon the original collection, put together by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who included specimens gathered during the first major oceanographic campaigns (Uranie, Boussole, Astrolabe). Since 1968, Lamouroux’s herbarium plates have been added to the collection, as well as specimens gathered during nearly all the major French oceanographic campaigns.
The Muséum’s bryozoan and brachiopod collection has been featured in numerous systematics publications. The historic collections have been and continue to be the subject of successive articles underlining their scientific and historical interest, especially the historical background of their original study. Over two thirds of the specimens have entered the collection since 1968. Loan requests mainly relate to material from recent oceanographic campaigns. New species are regularly described in these collections. Part of the collection (types, published material) has been digitised and is available on the Muséum’s collections databases website.