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Biology Collections

Biology Collections

Biological collections of the Science Museum of Minnesota include:

  • 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:
    • molluscs: 80,000 marine and fresh water shell and fluid
    • fairy shrimp: fluid specimens, including a newly described species
  • botanical & ethnobotanical (plant): 1,000 herbarium specimens. Learn about the Science Museum of Minnesota's bryophyte (moss) collection.

Biology collections are preserved and accumulated to serve multiple purposes, some of the most important being:

  • to document geographic occurrence and distribution patterns
  • to provide genetic (tissue) analysis
  • to document ecological surveys
  • to monitor populations and communities tserve exhibit and educational functions
  • to exchange with other scientific or educational institutions
  • to preserve for future studies
  • to establish unequivocal identification of similar species

Although the geographical scope of the biological collections is predominantly of Minnesota origin, substantial segments of the mammal, herp, insect, and mollusc collections are of other state, country, continental or oceanic provenance. Biology collections at the Science Museum of Minnesota also include unique specimens, such as:

  • one new species of fairy shrimp
  • 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 Science Museum of Minnesota
  • eggs, skeleton and mounts of the extinct Passenger Pigeon; plus some specimens of other rare, threatened or endangered species
  • the largest collections of mammals in Minnesota (including specimens in fluid);
  • the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th specimens of Heather Voles (Phenacomys intermedius) from Minnesota
  • series of other species generally believe tbe rare or uncommon in Minnesota
    • Harvest mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis)
    • Pocket mice (Perognathus flavescens)
    • Grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster)
    • Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)
  • a two-headed Snapping Turtle, which had a well-documented history and a popular following of museum visitors