Crustacean, Pycnogonid and Limulid collection

Crustaceans are composed by an amazing 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 collection gathers all the Crustacean groups as well as the Pycnogonids and Limulids. More than 165,000 specimens are inventoried and stored according to systematics. With about 15,500 type specimens, the MNHN Crustacean collection is one of the world’s most diverse Crustacean collections. It is considered as the largest 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 marine environments, fresh waters and terrestrial (including parasitic species).


It began before 1800 with the samplings of naturalist’s great expeditions (by Bougainville, Savigny, Dumont d’Urville, etc.) and then continued with the Travailleur and Talisman expeditions.

The collection had been enriched by the work of prestigious scientists such as Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, Latreille, H. and A. Milne-Edwards, Chevreux and Théodore Monod.

Thanks to the Musorstom and Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos expeditions, the collection the collection has experienced a great expansion in the late 70s, pursuing today.


The collection increases by 5% per year depending on the groups, thanks to the deep-sea cruises and numerous donations and deposits.

In the last 40 years, the exploration cruises led by MNHN, such as Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos and Our Planet reviewed surveys, have contributed to the constitution of the world’s largest benthic crustacean collection.

A total of fifty or so loans per year, as well as the high frequency of visitors (300 researcher-days) per year, are the metrics of the scientific interest in the MNHN collection. The collections are also often used for exhibitions.


Laure Corbari
corbari [@]

Paula Martin-Lefèvre
martin-lefevre [@]

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