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Field Museum of Natural History ("The Field Museum") houses one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of Recent mammals.  The collection currently numbers 227,000 specimens and 600 primary types, ranking third in size and scope among North American collections behind Washington (USNM) and New York (AMNH). The collections are unique, encyclopedic, and worldwide in scope.  I oversee the Neotropical collections, which are especially strong and attract between a third and half of our collection use through visitors and loans.  Nearly 40% of our holotypes represent Neotropical mammals.

A host of distinguished past curators and other scientists have contributed to the collections' development, including especially Edmund Heller, Wilfred Osgood, Colin Sanborn, and Philip Hershkovitz.  Today, the Neotropical collections continue to grow through my field efforts and those of our research associates and students. Former students Douglas Kelt, Chris Yahnke, Victor Pacheco, Paúl Velazco, Sergio Solari, Noe de la Sancha, and especially  Carl Dick deserve special notice for outstanding contributions to the collections in the course of their thesis research.  This has helped strengthen the collection--especially in anatomical preparations and frozen tissues--in Chile, Paraguay, and Peru, as well as in our holdings of ectoparasites.
 'Don Felipe' (Philip Hershkovitz) in the Division's collections, 1991. 

Hershkovitz served with distinction at the Field Museum from 1947 until his death in 1997.

A number of Field Museum scientists and their collaborators have contributed substantially to the development of our Afrotropical collections. Julian Kerbis Peterhans and Terry Demos have worked extensively in the Albertine Rift, the late Bill Stanley in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and the DRC, and Steve Goodman in Madagascar. Over the last 10 years, I have contributed to our holdings from Kenya.  Together with earlier collections from Africa, our rapidly growing Afrotropical collections now rival the Neotropical collections in size.

Our Asian collections were relatively small and grew in episodic fashion until Larry Heaney arrived at Field Museum in 1988. His active focused program of research on the mammals of the Philippines has greatly augmented those collections, especially in collaborations with former students Jodi Sedlock and the late Danilo Balete.

The Field Museum's Mammal collections are fully databased.  This step was accomplished with the dedication of Museum staff and associates, together with supplemental support of the National Sciences Foundation for verification (DEB-8821834), creating relational tables for tissues (DBI-9728985), and geo-referencing (DBI-0108161), and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for converting this database from C/Base (a UNIX program) to KE EMu, which operates under Windows.  Collection users help us to validate the database by alerting us to inaccuracies and inconsistencies in records, and the collection is cross-linked to Insect databases through our superb collections of ectoparasites.  If you identify problems with our data, please notify me or our collection manager.

Field Museum has also committed major resources to make its collections accessible to scholars worldwide.  A Visiting Scholarship program (link here) is available to support work at undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.  Please note that requests for visiting scholarships always exceed the available supply.  Also be aware that Graduate Fellowships are intended to support students-in-residence (i.e., those studying with museum curators as their research advisers), and each program has a different annual deadline--plan early and be sure to coordinate your plans with museum staff!


The collections are strongest from tropical regions, with large and very important collections from the Neotropics,
Afrotropics, and Indo-Malayan regions. Continual growth renders all such appraisals historic and approximate.

This is a current appraisal of the collection's taxonomic holdings (catalogued records on 7/15/2012)


Countries for mammal holotypes, ranked by their representation in the FMNH collection (as of 9 Jan 2013)

About 40% of our holotypes represent Neotropical mammals, making that portion of the collection especially useful to the division's many visitors.

Mammal holotypes by biogeographic region

More about the Mammal collections at The Field Museum.
Query FMNH Mammal database.
If this link fails you, you can always use the community-wide servers to which we contribute data: VertNet and GBIF.
If your envisioned use of the Field Museum's collections involves destructive sampling, including all genetic sampling, please see our destructive sampling policy. Providing all information needed for a decision will speed the processing of your request.

Visit The Osgood Files -- pages about the Division's eminent second curator

Subpages (1): Osgood Files