Natural Sciences

Robber fly head
Close up view of the head of a robber fly.
Image: Sarah McCaffrey
Source: Museum Victoria

MV's Sciences Department staff, students and volunteers research many questions about the diversity and origins of the fauna and geology of Australasia and surrounding oceans. Drawing from the museum's vast and extraordinary collections, the department works across four broad disciplines:


Taxonomic issues investigated range from the discovery and description of new species to resolving relationships between species, genera, families and orders. These findings are then used to further understand the origins, evolution and biogeographical distribution of the Australasian fauna.

Documenting the diversity within and between populations of a species is also an important area of research. Integration of information from all these sources contributes to debate and planning for species conservation and ecosystem management.

Palaeontological and geological research provides further insights through an understanding of past faunas, environments and the geological processes which have shaped Australia. The description of mineral assemblages (including new minerals) and determining factors in their formation are key components of this research area.

Most of this research is based on specimens held in Museum Victoria's collections or borrowed from other museums. The department's staff also have active field programs to further develop the research collections.

Optical and electron microscopes along with X-ray equipment are used to study external and internal characteristics of animals while genetic information is obtained through DNA sequencing. The composition and structure of minerals are investigated through the use of X-ray diffraction and electron microprobe equipment.

All this leads to research publications, books, websites, apps, popular articles, museum exhibitions, conferences and film documentaries.

Image Gallery

Pale Octopus Bone of Pelagornis Anemone Lion specimen Jasper specimen Softcoral Seahorse