Mammals: 14,500 specimens (representing 24 of the 26 Mammalian Orders, from over 70 families)
- Study Skins & Skulls:13,250
- Complete Skeletons: 750
- Tanned Hides: 225
- Specimens in Alcohol: 225
- Mounted Specimens: 50
Left: The study skin of a pangolin (Manis javanica)
Right: Various skulls of the family Felidae
Birds: 7,000 specimens (from over 100 families)
- Study Skins: 6,525
- Complete Skeletons: 300
- Mounted Specimens: 125
- Specimens in Alcohol: 50
Historic Nest and Egg collection:
This collection contains over 200 hundred specimens; the
earliest of which were collected by Morton John Elrod and
P.M. Silloway in the 1880's.
Fish: 3,200 specimens (over 20,000 individuals from over 100 families)
- Specimens in Alcohol: 3,100
- Complete Skeletons: 100
Left: The Fish Collection as they were stored in 2006
Right: The Fish Collection after being relocated, storage from 2006-present
Below: The skull of a Garpike (Family Lepisosteidae)
Reptiles and Amphibians:
320 specimens (over 2,000 individuals)
- Specimens in Alcohol: 300
- Complete Skeletons: 20
Right: The skull of a Boa constrictor
The Montana Comparative Skeletal Collection (MCSC) is a unit of the zoological museum, which is
specifically geared toward aiding faunal analysts, (particularly zooarchaeologists) with their studies.
~ Value of Biological Collections ~
- Documentation of the Past - Collections can document populations no longer available to science, including species recently extinct because of human influence. As habitat destruction continues to accelerate, we will never have access to many species and the genetic, biochemical, and environmental information they contain unless they are represented in museum collections.
- Biogeography - Collections are crucial for documenting the past and present geographic distributions of organisms. This is essential information not only for studies of ecology and evolution, but alsofor resource management, conservation planning and monitoring, and studies of global change.
- Sources and Vouchers - Museum collections serve as source materials, and voucher specimens for a host of other nonsystematic studies. Geneticists, anatomists, biochemists, and demographers can all use existing museum materials in their work and deposit representative specimens in museum collections.
- Identification Resource - Museum collections are a unique resource allowing for the comparison and identification of biological material, discovered by scientists or by the public. Accurate identification is fundamental to any research project.
- Education - Seeing and handling a real natural history specimen is a completely different experience from looking at a picture or reading a description. Museum collections are constantly used for teaching purposes, from a preschool museum tour wih hands-on specimens to graduate school classes.