The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' mammalogy collection contains approximately 18,000 specimens and is one of the largest regional mammalogy collections in the southeast. The specimens are primarily from North Carolina and the Southeastern United States. The collection contains significant historical and recent holdings of all North American orders, and limited specimens of international origin. It encompasses the taxonomic units of 18 orders, 68 families, 226 genera, and 370 species. Holdings are especially strong in Chiroptera, Rodentia, Carnivora, Cetacea, Sirenia and Soricimorpha.

Collection materials include study skins, tanned hides, skulls, complete skeletons, and fluid-preserved material. A special collection, arranged by element (type of bone), is maintained to facilitate identification of mammal remains from zooarcheological and food habit studies. The collection contains some interesting articulated skeletons including a manatee and five great whales (Blue, Right, Humpback, Sperm and True's Beaked Whale) that are on exhibit. The holdings of marine mammals include 192 individuals in 29 species representing 11 families and 3 orders. An actively growing tissue collection consists of heart, liver, kidney and leg muscle tissue-types that is stored in 95% ethanol, and is available for DNA studies. This collection, consisting of over 2500 tissues, is soon to be transferred into a - 80°C ultra-cold freezer for long term preservation.

Care of the collection is the responsibility of the permanent staff of the mammal unit, consisting of Curator Lisa Gatens and Collection Manager Benjamin Hess. The permanent staff is often assisted by temporary staff, interns, volunteers and junior curators. The mammal staff works closely with many universities, agencies and other institutions to acquire specimens for the collection.


Early acquisitions were made by H.H. Brimley and C.S. Brimley, the Museum's cofounders and first curators. Although some specimens date back to the late 19th century, the collection really began to grow in the 1960s beginning with the efforts of David Adams. David Lee, former Curator of Birds, and former Museum director John Funderburg are responsible for considerable growth during the 1970s. The collection has grown steadily since the 1960s. Mary K. Clark was added to the staff as the first full-time mammal employee in 1980. A full-time collection manager was added in the late 1990s.


Please direct loan or visitation inquiries to Curator of Mammals, Lisa Gatens at lisa.gatens@naturalsciences.org or 919.707.9946 and Collections Manager of Mammalogy, Benjamin Hess at benjamin.hess@naturalsciences.org or 919.707.9944.

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