Invertebrate Zoology and Geology Collection Image

Historically, the main geographic focus of the IZ collection has been, and greatly remains, the eastern Pacific region from Alaska to the Galapagos.  However, significant sub-groups are now represented from the western Pacific (especially New Guinea and the Philippines), the central Pacific islands, and Antarctica.  In addition, some taxa (e.g. Opisthobranchia, Octocorallia, Cirripedia, and Echinoidea) have world-wide geographic representation resulting from the activities of staff research, present and past.  Geology has been a focus of research and collections at the Academy since its founding in 1853.  The strengths of today’s fossil collection are Pacific Basin invertebrates of Mesozoic and Cenozoic age, fossil fish, and foraminifera from California and the western U.S.  The mineral collection is worldwide in scope, and includes the meteorite and gemstone collections.  The Academy’s diatom collection is third largest in the world (and the best documented!).  It is part of the geology collections here because most of the early specimens are fossil.

Invertebrate Zoology Collection

Plumarella Alaska

Sea Fan Muricea
Charonia tritonis Protoreaster Japan

Demosponge Philippines

Leodia Florida

Tridacna Indo-Pacific

Coronula California
  Blue coral Heliopora    Decapod Crustaceans

Gems and Mineral Collection


Agate Slab


  Rose Quartz Pyromorphite

Fossil Collection



Diatom Collection

Tongan Diatom
Centric Diatom

Marine Diatom

Terms of Use

These databases and all images within them are owned and copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, ©2009, or licensed to it.  The data and images may be used freely by individuals and organizations for purposes of basic research, education and conservation.  These data and images may not be used for commercial or for-profit purposes without the express written consent of the California Academy of Sciences, and may not be repackaged, resold, or redistributed in any form.

Use of the data or images in publications, dissertations and theses, or other scientific reports, should be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology, California Academy of Sciences, as the source for the information.  Please provide the Department with separates of articles resulting from the use of these data or images.  This helps us to document the use of specimens as “vouchers” in the literature.  It also helps us to justify continued funding for the collections so that these resources remain available into the future.

Department Policies

Acquisition policy

General:  Specimens may be acquired by staff collecting, by exchange, or by donation.  No specimens will be accessioned without adequate labelling, collection notes, field notes, or other locality information, nor without appropriate legal documentation (collecting permits, export permits from country of origin, etc.) when applicable. All such information is to be deposited simultaneously with the specimens.  Whenever possible, accessioned material should contain a sufficient number of specimens to permit destructive examination (soft anatomy dissection, shell and tissue sectioning, chemical analysis, etc.). Donations with restrictions on the use of the material are not acceptable.  All specimens collected by CAS staff are sacrificed in accordance with recommended techniques to prevent suffering.

Primary acquisitions are specimens or collections obtained as part of ongoing staff research projects.  For living invertebrates, this currently includes echinoids, coelenterates, prosobranch and opisthobranch gastropods and cirriped arthropods.  Current research on fossils includes cirriped arthropods and echinoids.

Secondary acquisitions include the following:

  1. Well documented specimens or collections from geographic areas or taxonomic groups that are generally well represented in the existing collections and that we wish to build upon and fill taxonomic or geographic gaps.  Specimens of current research interest, provided the material is either unrepresented in the existing  collections, or is judged to add significantly to the understanding of the morphology, variability, geographic distribution, or geologic range.  Areas of primary geographic interest include the eastern Pacific and the Indo-Pacific tropics.
  2. Well documented specimens or collections of taxa or groups that are not well represented in the existing collections (as in #1 above), but judged to be useful for comparative studies.

Deaccession policy

In certain cases, at the discretion of the collection manager and curators, specimens may be removed from the collection.  Specimens may be deemed not appropriate for research activities if they lack locality data, are poorly preserved or are common species thought to be overly represented in the collections. 

Deaccessioned specimens may be retained for departmental teaching material, or they may be turned over to the education department for teaching.  Such specimens may also be donated to other departments within the Public Programs Division.

Gifts of specimens which have not been previously deaccessioned may be made to other researchers, however the transaction must be approved by the curator in charge.

Loan policy and procedures           

Recipient: Requests for loans must be written, and should include a description of the kind of work being done and justification for the use of this material.  All loans must be approved by a curator.  Loans may be made to qualified individuals or institutions.  Loans for study by students are made only to major professors or other qualified sponsors, and study of the loaned material must be under the supervision of the sponsor.  In general, loan requests for large numbers of specimens, if approved, are sent in small units.

Duration: Type specimens are loaned for three months; other loans are made for six months.  Extensions may be granted on written request.  A reminder is sent on the loan expiration date.

Costs: The Academy pays the costs of shipping loan materials and borrowers pay the costs of return shipments.

Shipping: Type specimens are shipped by first class registered mail.  All other domestic loans are shipped by parcel post.  Loans to other countries are shipped by airmail and types are insured. 

Restrictions: In general, all material is loaned for non- destructive examination.  No preparation, cleaning, sectioning, or other destructive methods are allowed without written approval by curatorial staff.  If such procedures are approved, duplicates of slides or other preparations made from the loan material are requested.

Publication: Copies of all publications resulting from work on loaned specimens are requested for the department library.

Voucher specimen archival

The department accepts small numbers of voucher specimens from qualified scientific researchers for archival at no charge.  However, voucher specimens received from paid consultants or corporations for the purpose of validating and documenting environmental surveys will be accepted only with payment of a service charge for storage and maintenance.  This fee will be set at prevailing rates for storage space, labor and supplies as calculated by the departmental staff including, but not limited to, the collection manager.  All voucher specimens accepted from commercial enterprises will be stored for a predetermined time period at the end of which the specimens may be retained or disposed of at the discretion of the departmental staff.