The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology recently acquired 45,000 reptile and amphibian specimens from Oregon State University, including over 30,000 snake specimens. With this acquisition, the museum’s snake collection has become the largest research collection in the world, offering unprecedented research opportunities for scientists.
The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology is home to a vast collection of reptiles and amphibians, with tens of thousands of preserved specimens representing decades of research and genetic patterns. Recently, the museum made headlines by acquiring 45,000 reptile and amphibian specimens from Oregon State University, including a staggering 30,000 snake specimens. This acquisition has solidified the museum’s snake collection as the largest research collection in the world, opening up new avenues for scientific exploration and discovery.
Unraveling the Past: The Importance of the Collection
The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s reptile and amphibian collection is a treasure trove of scientific knowledge. The recent acquisition from Oregon State University is particularly special, as it includes specimens collected over three decades by retired professors Stevan Arnold and Lynne Houck. These specimens hold valuable population-level data, allowing researchers to study how snake populations have changed over time and explore the factors driving these changes. Without Arnold and Houck’s donation, such in-depth investigations would not have been possible.
A Super Collection: Collaboration between Institutions
The acquisition of the Oregon State University specimens was a collaborative effort between the two institutions. Museum curators at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology worked closely with Oregon State University to ensure a smooth transfer of the specimens. By combining their resources and expertise, the two institutions created a “super collection” that surpasses what either could have achieved individually. This collaboration not only enhances the research capabilities of both institutions but also strengthens the scientific community as a whole.
Limitless Research Possibilities
The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s reptile and amphibian collection offers endless research possibilities. Dr. Alison Davis Rabosky, an associate professor and curator at the museum, and her doctoral student Hayley Crowell regularly utilize the collection for their research on color evolution in animals and the effects of climate change on thermal regulation. The specimens provide a wealth of data for these studies and open up opportunities for side quests, such as diet studies and X-rays. With its state-of-the-art facilities, including laboratories and a CT scanner, the museum is well-equipped to support a wide range of research endeavors.
Preserving Biodiversity Information for Future Generations
Natural history collections like the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s reptile and amphibian collection serve as a catalog of life on Earth. They are invaluable resources for researchers from around the world who come to study the specimens and gain insights into biodiversity. The collection’s records are accessible online, functioning as a public library of information. The museum curators emphasize the importance of maintaining such access, as it allows for the dissemination of knowledge to as many people as possible. They view their role as caretakers of these priceless specimens, ensuring that they remain accessible for future generations.
The acquisition of the Oregon State University reptile and amphibian specimens has catapulted the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s snake collection to the status of the largest research collection in the world. This achievement is a testament to the collaborative efforts of both institutions and the dedication of researchers like Dr. Alison Davis Rabosky and Hayley Crowell. With its vast collection and state-of-the-art facilities, the museum is a hub of scientific exploration and discovery. As the custodians of these specimens, the museum curators recognize the importance of preserving biodiversity information and making it accessible to researchers and the public alike. The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s reptile and amphibian collection stands as a testament to the wonders of the natural world and the endless possibilities for scientific inquiry.