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About the Collection


The Division of Reptiles and Amphibians maintains a collection that is worldwide in scope and is the second largest of its kind in the world. Presently, the research collections contain over 200,000 catalogued lots representing nearly a half million individual specimens, which includes nearly 500 primary type specimens with high resolution digital images. The average growth over the last ten years has been nearly 1500 specimens per year. Auxiliary research collections include skeletal preparations (both dry and cleared & stained), frozen tissue samples, radiographs, Kodachrome slides, digital images including CT scans, histological micro slides, and a large collection (over 250,000 records) of ecological vouchers collected from our Edwin S. George Reserve in Livingston County, Michigan. The valuable Herpetology Field Notebook Collection and other digital collections associated with the University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology provide a wide array of digital content created from the physical holdings maintained by the Museum of Zoology.

Organization and Storage

The main research collections, consisting of fluid preserved specimens (amphibians in 65% ethanol and reptiles in 75% ethanol) and skeletons are arranged alphabetically by taxonomy. A locator key with a list of genera and their corresponding shelf , tank, or cabinet number is placed at the head of each of the storage room (range). Bottles on the shelves are further organized by geography for each species, alphabetically by countries, by states for countries in North America, and by counties for Michigan species. This is basically the arrangement for the skeletal collection and the amphibian eggs/larva collection (in 10% buffered formalin). Primary Types are arranged alphabetically by species (original nomenclature) within the orders Gymnophiona, Caudata, Anura, Sauria, Ophidia, and Testudinata. The auxiliary research collections are arranged as follows. Kodachrome slides are organized alphabetically by taxonomy and geography, then numerically. Radiographs are arranged numerically by plate number. Tissues are arranged by field number and ordered into numbered cells of numbered tissue boxes. The teaching and exchange collections are arranged taxonomically. Long term storage of all fluid collections, radiographs, and kodachromes should avoid any light, excessive heat, and excessive humidity, thus the ranges need to be kept dark, cool, and dry. The tissue collections are stored at -80 degrees F in ultracold freezers. The room for the freezers needs to be kept cool to prevent them from over heating.