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National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN)
Hosting Legal Entity
National Museum of Natural Sciences - Madrid
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Scientific Description
The National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN) is a unique institution within the CSIC. In addition to carrying out cutting-edge scientific research, the RI manages a large collection of specimens, and a program of exhibitions and educational activities for the general public.

RI Category
Natural History Collections
Scientific Domain
Biological and Medical Sciences
Earth and Environmental Sciences
ESFRI Domain
Field station ‘El Ventorrillo’ (Sierra de Guadarrama)

About 60km from Madrid, consisting of two houses, semi-natural enclosures, basic laboratory equipment and a respirometry laboratory. Access is available for up to 24 users simultaneously.

Photograph service

Supports graphically research, collections and exhibitions.

MNCN, Geology collections

MNCN, Geology collections minerals (about 15,000) and rocks from Iberian Peninsula • Balearic and Canary Islands • some European mining districts Geological samples from Historical Expeditions (18th-20th centuries.) from Chile, Peru and Mexico, including rocks of Heuland brothers and Alexander von Humboldt. Collection of 300 fallen meteorites from Europe and America.

Animal sounds library

With more than 43,605 registers of birds and amphibians mainly, but also from mammals, insects, fish and reptiles is available for Users at MNCN.

MNCN, Palaeontology collections

MNCN, Palaeontology collections include vertebrates, invertebrates and botanical fossils, mainly from Iberian Peninsula and South America. More than 1 million specimens including the important collections of Cerro de los Batallones, El Sidrón and mammals of Spanish Cenozoic.

Germoplasm and tissues bank of endangered species

It is devoted to obtaining and cryopreserving germoplasm and somatic tissues of endangered species. It supports conservation of natural populations and captivity breeding programs.

Microscope with RAMAN spectrometry

Digital micro-analyser unit, X-Ray element mapping RAMAN Microscope (DXR Thermo Fisher) with laser of 532nm and 780nm, true point-and-shoot Raman capability of 1-micron spatial resolution and true confocal depth.

Restoration service

Restoration and conservation of paleontological samples. Cast and replica construction.

Molecular identification laboratory

Laboratory serving molecular identification to different sectors (CITES, scientific police, customs, etc.).

MNCN, DNA and Tissues Collection

MNCN, DNA and Tissues Collection contains more than 150,000 samples of over 4,300 species (96 type specimens) stored as DNA samples, frozen and freeze-dried tissues and specimens available for molecular analyses. It coordinates a laboratory serving molecular identification to different sectors (CITES, scientific police, customs, etc.).

Biogeography informatics laboratory

Aimed to facilitate the extraction, management and analysis of all types of georeferenced environmental and biological data and to provide researchers the necessary tools to carry out mapping associated with their research projects.

Histology and procedures for zoological samples lab

Equipped with: 1. Light Microscopes: Nikon Optiphot with Nikon FX-35WP camera and drawing tube • Zeiss Axioplan with Axiocam MRc5 digital camera and MC100 camera, drawing tube and epifluorescence light possibility; Zeiss Standard 14; Sony CCD video camera for Zeiss Axioplan and Nikon Optiphot microscopes, 2. Stereomicroscopes: Nikon SMZ-10 with Nikon HFX-35II camera and drawing tube; Wild MB with swinging arm; Zeiss STEM SV8; Zeiss Stemi 2000-C with Axiocam 1Cc1 digital camera 3. Microtomes: Leitz 1512; Leica RM 2045; Cryostate Micron HM505N, 4. TissueMatic Embedding Center 77A, 5.

Confocal laser scanning microscope

(LEICA DM5500Q) with laser of 488, 532 and 635 nm, a true point-scanning, spectral system for fluorescence imaging of live or fixed cells.

Taphonomy laboratory

It works on the simulation of the environmental conditions and abrasive parameters affecting bones, fossils or trace fossils in control situations.

Field station de Ore-Pontigon (Asturias)

Located close to Luarca village (Asturias), is a house of two floors both for living and laboratory use close to the Esva river.

Animal facility

Breeding and maintenance of mice in control situation. The facilities consist in a breeding room, stock room, quarantine room, storing room, washing sterilisation room.

Bioacoustic laboratory

Includes a temperature and humidity controlled semi-anechoic chamber with automated recording system (Recorder by Avisoft); Sound level meter Bruel and Kjaer Mediator 2238, with B&K sound calibrators; Three complete digital stations for the digitisation and edition of sounds based on Macintosh computers with 96 KHz digitising boards.  Playback devices from several audio formats; Several portable digital recorders including Marantz and Sound Devices 722, Several directional and omnidirectional Sennheiser microphones including a MKH 70, Two Telinga parabolic reflector microphones. One high frequency microphone Sennheiser MK 800 (up to 50 KHz), one ultra high frequency (up to 100 KHz) microphone GRAS; More than 10 SongMeters (automated field recording devices); SongScope and X-Bat sound detection software.

Ecophysiology laboratory

It is aimed to facilitate a physiological approach to evolutionary ecology by studying the mechanisms that promote and limit the adaptation of organisms to the environment. It includes a sample preparation lab also used for non-instrumental analysis wet. This laboratory has equipment for detection and extraction of compounds from various biological matrices using a battery of techniques including enzyme immunoassays.

Cathodoluminiscence spectrometer

Gatan Mono CL adapted to SEM (image and spectra), VIS to IR, temperature control.

Geology analytical facility

For the analyses of soil and waters, consists of X-Ray Diffraction and Micro-Diffraction Analysis: Phillips Pw1710 for Structural crystal analysis ( CuKα radiation); Capillary Electrophoresis: Water Capillary ion analyzer. Quanta –4000 (Waters, Milford) for Capillary Electrophoresis (CE). Water dissolved ion analysis; X-Ray Fluorescence: Magic–pro (4Kw) for Chemical analysis; X-Ray, Transportix TX 100/100. (Radiología SA) for Radiographs of any Museum item collection; STA 6000 Simultaneous Thermal Analyzer- of TG with DTA mode (∆T) and DSC (mW) mode - Perkin-Elmer; Coulter LS-230 Instrument for partcile size distribution (with Fluid Module); Picarro CRDS Analyzer for Isotopic CO2 12C /13C and CH4 concentration in Ambient Air -Model G2101-i.

Chromatography laboratory

Fully equipped to analyse compounds or contaminants in soil and water, metabolic compounds and anions in animal and plant samples and some samples of atmospheric gases. Includes a sample preparation lab also used for non-instrumental analysis wet. The analytical equipment consists of: 1) Gas chromatographers: Hewlett Packard 5890 Series II Varian 3300; Pye Unicam 204; 2) Liquid chromatographers high efficiency: Hewlett Packard 1050; Waters 616; Dionex 4500i ion chromatograph and 3) Spectrophotometers UV / visible: Hewlett Packard 8452A; Perkin Elmer Lambda 16.

Molecular biology laboratory

Equipped with top-of-the-range facilities for molecular systematics (taxonomy and phylogeny) and population genetics. A wide range of molecular approaches (DNA extraction, both from current and ancient samples, amplification by PCR and cloning, RT-PCR, qPCR, development of enriched genomic libraries, fragment analyses, etc.) are routinely used to tackle different basic taxonomic or evolutionary analyses, study endangered species and advise environmental authorities on conservation and management. Along with the standard molecular facilities that would be expected in a modern research infrastructure MNCN has a laboratory devoted to the handling and amplification of ancient DNA (“fossil”, subfossil and preserved modern but especially delicate material), which is rare in Europe. Seven full-time specialist technicians will provide technical support for users. Support for sequencing, fragment analysis, and Next Generation Sequencing is provided by different companies, as “Parque Científico de Madrid” or SECUGEN.

Reproductive biology laboratory

Fully equipped for research of the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms that underlie gametes function, fertilization and early embryonic development processes of mammals in an evolutionary context (includes cryobanking facility).

Field station "La Higueruela " (Toledo)

Located in Santa Olalla village (Toledo), consists in a farm with facilities for agricultural research.

MNCN, Zoology collections

MNCN, Zoology collections holds an estimated 7,5 million specimens distributed in six collections: Entomology, Malacology, Other invertebrates, Herpethology, Icthiology and Birds and Mammals. Important historical collections of: North African Insecta and Crustacea (Bolívar); Cuban fauna (Poey); Mollusca from Philippines (J.G. Hidalgo); Parasite Helminths from Iberian Peninsula (López-Neira); Amphibia from South America (Jiménez de la Espada) and Spain. 42,000 lots of recently collected, well-documented, and not yet studied specimens of insects and marine fauna (FAUNA Oceanographic Expeditions 1990–1996 from the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Islands, Alboran Sea).

Non-destructive analytical and imaging facilities

Besides standard scanning electron microscopes, MNCN offers a specialized equipment: an electron microscope suite that includes the combination of ESEM, catholuminescence spectrometer and two types of microanalyses: Wavelength dispersal spectrometer (WDS) and Energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS). WDS provides the most accurate quantitative microanalyses for SEM, while EDS offers quick and high performance microanalysis, that may be applied to non-prepared (uncoated, non-cut or polished) specimens. In addition, MNCN offers the service of a microscope with RAMAN spectrometry and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Three full-time technicians provide service to users of the non-destructive and imaging facility. This Facility is an outstanding aspect of the MNCN and may be unique in Europe, allowing the preparation, study and analysis of a variety of samples from irreplaceable specimens (i.e. from type biological specimens to art paintings – The Prado Museum is a user – to minerals and rocks).

Video-microscopy of high resolution and fluorescence facility

Video-Microscopy of High Resolution and Fluorescence, and Analysis and Processing Image: Designed exclusively for the capture, study and analysis of high-resolution images and videos of ultrastructural features using brightfield, phase contrast, DIC and fluorescence microscopy techniques.

Sputter Coater


Atomic absortion

Climatic Chamber.


Pharmacia, BIOTECH.

Petrological microscope

Leica DMR.

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

AFM (Asylum's MFP-3D).


micro, vacuum, vortex, one-plate, etc.


Thermo Scientific 1000.

Field Emiss SEM

Field emission SEM with XuM detector (Nano CT).

Zeiss SEM

Zeiss Evo Variable pressure SEM with EDX and cathodoluminesence imaging (Chroma).

Refrigerators, Freezers, Ultrafreezers

Liebher, Electrolux.

Coulter LS-230 Instrument

for partcile size distribution analyzer (with Fluid Module).

Sputter Coater

SC510 Biorad.


Laser ablation ICPMS (New Wave UP-193 excimer laser + Varian 7500 ICPMS).

X-Ray, Transportix TX 100/100

(Radiología SA) for Radiographs of any Museum item collection.

Thermo-Cyclers for PCR

Applied Biosytems, Eppendorf.

CHNS Analyser

CHNS Analyser (Thermo Finnigan Flash EA1112).

HPLC system

High-pressure liquid chromatography system with diode-array and fluorescence detectors and automated fraction collection (Agilent 1200).

Zeiss Axiotron Microscop

Zeiss Axiotron Microscope with Diode Array Spectrophotometer.

High Res SEM

HITACHI S-3000N digital SEM with a Polaron cpD7501 critical point dryer and BALZERS SDC004 sputter coater for sample preparation.

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

AFM (Asylum's MFP-3D).

X-Ray Fluorescence

Magic-pro (4Kw) for Chemical analysis.

Cameca SX100 electron microprobe (5-spectrometer) with EDX analysis and CL imaging

Cameca SX100 electron microprobe (5-spectrometer) with EDX analysis and CL imaging.

X-Ray Diffraction and Micro-Diffraction Analysers

Phillips Pw1710 for Structural crystal analysis (CuKα radiation).

Xcalibur Single Crystal Diffractometer

Oxford Instruments) with Cryojet temperature stage (90-490K).

Carbon Coater

CC7650 Quorun Technologies.

Solution ICPMS

Solution ICPMS (Varian 810).

Capillary Electrophoresis

Water Capillary ion analyzer Quanta -4000 (Waters, Milford).

Spectrophotometers UV / visible

Hewlett Packard 8452A; Perkin Elmer Lambda 16.

Flow benches, gas extraction hood


Liquid nitrogen tanks

Liquid nitrogen tanks.

High Resolution Scanning Diffractometer

Panalytica X'Pert Pro MPD - Alpha 1.

Mechanical simulation equipment

Simulation of sediment compactation processes.

Ion Chromatography

Dionex 4500i.

Flow cytometer

Cell Lab Quanta Beckman coulter flow cytometer to measure genome size, ploidy level, and other assays (PI, DAPI, FITC, etc).

Electrohoresis equipment

plates, sources (BIO-RAD).

Environmental SEM FEI QUANTA 200

Environmental SEM (FEI QUANTA 200) with EDS Oxford INCA Energy 200 microanalysis and WDS Oxford WAVE 500 microanalysis. Secondary and backscatter electron detectors. Digital image processing equipment, capture, storage and analysis, interactive images and three-dimensional measurements.

Ion Chromatography

(Dionex ICS-3000).


Gatan, SEM hosted, X-ray Ultra-microscope (XuM)).

Micro Powder Diffraction System (Nonius PDS120) with GeniX High Flux Source and temperature stage (50-1200ºC)

Micro Powder Diffraction System (Nonius PDS120) with GeniX High Flux Source and temperature stage (50-1200ºC).

Powder diffraction system

Nonius PDS120) with PSD detector.

Solution ICPAES

Solution ICPAES (Varian Vista Pro Axial).

PCR Real-Time System

Lightcycler, Roche.


Transmission electron microscope (Hitachi H7100) with Gatan digital camera.


FTIR with microscope (Perkin Elmer Spectrum One).

DTA Equipment

Perking Elmer.




Variable pressure SEM (LEO 1455) with EDX analysis and Deben Coolstage.

High Res SEM

High Resolution Field Emission SEM (Zeiss ULTRA Plus) with EDX analysis and charge compensation technology.

Stoves, incubators



High resolution SEM (FEI INSPECT) that operates with high and low vacuum (0.08 to 0.60 torr). Secondary and backscatter electron detectors with EDS Oxford INCA Energy microanalysis. Operating conditions: 1 KV-30KV and working distance of 10mm.

Simultaneous Thermal Analyzer of TG

STA 6000 Simultaneous Thermal Analyzer- of TG with DTA mode (∆T) and DSC (mW) mode - Perkin-Elmer.

Petrological microscopes


Video-Microscopy of High Resolution and Fluorescence

Capture and processing of high-resolution images with motorized Olympus BX51 optical microscope and image capture equipment including high resolution digital cameras and programs for image capture, processing and analysis, and video generation (Syncroscopy-Automontage®, Imax-Solex®, etc).


For research (germination, controlled growth); automatic light cycle and humidity.

Water purification system

MilliQ Ultra-Pure water (miliQ and miliRQ) MILLIPORE.

CT Scan

Nikon CT Scan XT H 160. 5 µm focal spot reflection target X-Ray Source. 25 to 225 kV microfocus X-ray source with 3 µm focal spot size. Geometric magnification up to 160x and system magnification up to 400x. 5 axis fully programmable manipulator. Maximum scan area 250 x 330mm.

Robot for automater PCR extraction


Image analysis PCR

Polaroid camera, digital camera, transilluminators (Quantum ST4-1000/26M; GBOX EF).

Picarro CRDS Analyzer

Picarro CRDS Analyzer for Isotopic CO2 12C /13C and CH4 concentration in Ambient Air -Model G2101-i.

Liquid chromatographers

High efficiency liquid chromatographers Hewlett Packard 1050; Waters 616.


Leitz 1512; Leica RM 2045 and Cryostate Micron HM505N, 4.

Zeiss Axioplan microscope

with Axiocam MRc5 digital camera, MC100 camera and Sony CCD video camera, drawing tube and epifluorescence light possibility.

Electron microprobe

Cameca SX100 electron microprobe (5-spectrometer) with EDX analysis and CL imaging.

Confocal laser scanning microscope


Gas chromatographers

Hewlett Packard 5890 Series II Varian 3300; Pye Unicam 204; Gas Chromatographer / Mass Spectrometer, Thermo Finnigan.


Fully automated single crystal 4-circle diffractometer (Nonius).

Date of last update: 17/03/2017