It’s naturally amazing

The science of life
Our Biology Department studies and shares the incredible diversity of life found on our planet. From rare bugs to snake skins to exotic birds and more, it’s truly astounding to see the many forms nature takes. The museum’s biology collection boasts over 170,000 specimens from around the globe including a number of rare or endangered species, the largest collection of mammals in Minnesota, and even a two-headed snapping turtle that has quite a history.

For more information, email or call (651) 221-9435.

Highlights of our biology collection

  • Mammalogical (mammal): 50,000 specimens, including study skins, flat skins, osteological and fluid specimens
  • Ornithological (bird): osteological specimens and 1300 study skins
  • Herptile (reptile and amphibian)and icthyological (fish): 1,000 fluid and osteological specimens
  • Entomological (insect): 40,000 pinned specimens
  • Aquatic invertebrates: 80,000 marine, fresh water shell, and fluid molluscs and fairy shrimp
  • Botanical & ethnobotanical (plant): 1,000 herbarium specimens.
  • One species of mammal new to Minnesota (the Smoky Shrew Sorex fumeus), Minnesota collections of which are represented by the 50+ specimens only at the museum
  • The largest collections of mammals in Minnesota (including specimens in fluid)
  • A two-headed snapping turtle, which had a well-documented history and a popular following of museum visitors


Meet our staff

Richard Oehlenschlager, Collections Manager for Biology
His local research projects have consisted of field and census surveys of voles and other small mammals, bird banding, and the collecting of botanical, herpetological, entomological, avian, and mammalogical specimens. Field studies have also taken him to the Antarctic for seal and bird research in conjunction with NSF. In official honor of his Antarctic research participation, the geographical place name Oehlenschlager Bluff was given to the Antarctic Landmark at 75 03S 136 42W.

Access to the collection

Our biology collections are accessible to qualified scientists who wish to use them for research. Please contact curatorial staff prior to your visit at

jQuery(document).ready(function () {if(getCookie('currentSessionKey') != '') { setCookie('currentSessionKey', '', 0, 0, 3); setCookie('promptCounter', '0', 0, 0, 3); } var loginForm = document.getElementById('smm-tessitura-constituents-login'); var url = '/includes/cgaddon/cgui.php'; url += '?sessionid='; url += '&show=dialog'; if(loginForm && (loginForm.length) && (getCookie('promptCounter') == 0)) {document.getElementById('membershipModalOverlay').style.display = "block"; jQuery('#membershipModalBody').load(url);} else {document.getElementById('membershipModalOverlay').style.display = "none";} });