Crustaceans are composed by an incredibly large variety of forms, such as barnacles, which spend their life hanged to a solid object, or more vagile forms such as prawns and crabs. The character shared by all the crustaceans is the existence of a common larval stage during the development of the embryo or larva, called a nauplius.
The Crustacean collection gathers all the decapod and non-decapod groups as well as the Pycnogonid and Limulid groups. More than 120,000 specimens are inventoried and stored according to systematics. With about 8,500 types, the MNHN Crustacean collection is one of the world’s most diverse Crustacean collections. It is considered as the biggest collection of deep sea decapod crustaceans for the Indo-Pacific area. The specimens, which can measure less than 1 mm and to more than 1 m, are mainly preserved in alcohol. Some are dry preserved (such as the historical Crab collection) while others are placed on microscope slides. A tissue and DNA collection was also constituted since 2008. The collection includes Crustaceans from the marine environments, fresh water and land (including parasite species).
It began before 1800 with harvests by travelling naturalists (trips by Bougainville, Savigny, Dumont d’Urville, etc.) and then continued with the Travailleur and Talisman expeditions. The collection benefited from the work of prestigious scientists such as Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, Latreille, H. and A. Milne-Edwards, and Chevreux. The collection has grown considerably thanks to the Musorstom and Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos expeditions, which began in the late 70s and are still continuing today.
The collection increases by 8-10% per year depending on the groups, thanks to the campaigns and numerous donations and deposits. For 20 years, the Musorstom and Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos campaigns have enabled us to constitute the world’s largest bathyal fauna collection. The fifty or so loans we make, as well as the high visitor numbers (200 researcher-days) per year, are proof of the level of scientific interest in these collections. The collections are also often used for exhibitions.