The Associated Press reported last week that the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology has acquired tens of thousands of reptile and amphibian specimens from Oregon State University, many of which are snakes. Thanks to this recent donation, the museum’s reptile and amphibian collection is now believed to be the largest held by any research institution in the U.S. Museum staff have yet to complete the meticulous task of cataloging the new material, but estimate it contains around 30,000 snakes, giving Michigan a total of 65,000-70,000 snake specimens, surpassing collections at the Smithsonian in Washington, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the University of Kansas. The acquisition is expected to spur a range of new research opportunities.
A New York Times report, published earlier this month, describes the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) plans to overhaul its stewardship of roughly 12,000 human remains. The museum has decided to remove all human remains on public display. Under the new policy, improvements will be made to the storage facilities where the remains are now kept and anthropologists will spend more time studying the collection to determine the origins and identities of the remains. “Figuring out the answers to exactly what we have here, and how to actually describe that as completely as we can, is something that is important to do moving forward,” said AMNH President Sean M. Decatur.
The Florida Museum of Natural History’s latest exhibit showcases the contributions of Black people to natural history. Produced by Black in Natural History Museums, the exhibit consists of 17 profiles that feature modern and historical researchers, artists and curators across eight fields of research, highlighting the experiences and contributions of each person. The profiles include historical figures like John Edmonstone, a former enslaved person who taught taxidermy to Charles Darwin; Margaret Collins, the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in entomology; and individuals active today, like mammologist Brandon Kilbourne and wildlife ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant. The gallery also depicts the harsh challenges and adversity faced by those featured. Learn more.