It is a fundamental principle of science that results should be repeatable, and in geological research, that generally means that the original samples should be accessible and available for restudy. Unique systems of museum registration numbers have been in use since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, but they were not universally accepted until the twentieth century. The concept of designating a single fossil specimen as the holotype for a species by citing its collection registration number did not receive universal acceptance until the twentieth century, and in the nineteenth century literature, there are numerous references  to specimens being in the collections of named individuals. Many of these were subsequently donated to museums, but without the necessary cross-referencing.

Specimens loaned to geoscientists for restudy do not always make it back to the original collections. There are numerous stories of loans being lost following the death, retirement or career move of the borrower, or the transfer to another institution without notifying the owner.

This section highlights specimens or groups of specimens that have been:

  • Loaned and lost
  • Lost or stolen
  • Cited in historic literature, but without enough information to locate their current whereabouts, or newly recognised historic collections
  • Specimens found in collections where the true owner is unknown.
  • Specimens earmarked for disposal and where a new home is sought

How does LSS work?

The Lost, Stolen, and Strayed database is a file repository hosted in GoogleDrive. It has been populated initially from the ‘Lost and Found’ articles in the Geological Curator. Everyone is encouraged to submit new entries, some of which may, with permission, be included in future issues of the Geological Curator.

Entries should consist of one or more files, typically in the following formats:


They should describe the missing, found, sought after, or disposal items in as much detail as possible. Ideally, images of the specimens, register entries, and citing literature should be included. We may edit your submission before placing it on the website; please also ensure that there is no sensitive information included, for example storage locations, names and contact details (which would be covered by GDPR), or material that is not within your copyright.

Please email the files as attachments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Entries will be initially labelled as ACTIVE. Please notify This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if there is any change; hopefully we will be able to list a growing number as FOUND.

To see a typical example, please scroll down the list above to Lost and Found 199.