Michigan State University masthead

Natural Science Collections

Images of  wooden loan boxes on a table, a man examining a fossil outside, students in a class examining mammal skulls, two people collecting measurements with large calipers, and two mice of the genus Peromyscus


Image of Spotted Hyena Skull

The Mammal Research Collection ranks 25th in the Western Hemisphere and is accredited by the American Society of Mammalogists. It includes more than 41,395 specimens, approximately 8,000 of which are from the Great Lakes region. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador are also well represented. The collection includes skeletons, study skins, skulls, tanned hides, frozen tissues, and fluid-preserved specimens.


Image of four bird study skins

The Ornithology Research Collection includes over 14,450 specimens; more than one third are from Michigan. Also well-represented are Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil. Many of the specimens were part of the original holdings of the Michigan Agricultural College Museum, among them historically important series collected by naturalists Walter B. Barrows and Dillman S. Bullock. The collection includes study skins, skeletons, taxidermy mounts, eggs, nests, and fluid-preserved specimens.  Holdings from the MSU Kellogg Bird Sanctuary have been transferred to the MSU Museum.



Image of a jar with fluid-preserved specimens

The Herpetology Research Collection includes over 18,745 reptile and amphibian specimens representing Michigan, Mexico, South America, Africa, and Australia. Significant series were contributed by campus researchers and students. The collection includes fluid-preserved specimens, tanned skins, and over 4,600 skeletons. Vertebrate specimens from the MSU Kellogg Bird Sanctuary are now housed in the MSU Museum's Research Collections.



Image of a jar of preserved fish specimens from the Red Cedar River

The Ichthyology Research Collection includes 8,305 lots containing over 36,125 marine and freshwater specimens. Of the freshwater holdings, more than half are from Michigan, among them 1,100 specimens collected from the Red Cedar River, which flows through campus. Additional noteworthy series were collected in Ecuador, Mexico, and India. Both fluid-preserved specimens and skeletons (over 1,250) are represented.



Vertebrate Paleontology

Image of Snake Skeleton

The Vertebrate Paleontology Research collection includes over 4,200 specimens, approximately 90% of which are from North America. The most significant holdings are Cenozoic amphibians and reptiles from throughout North America, Permian fishes and tetrapods from Texas, and Late Pleistocene faunal remains from the Great Lakes region.