The NSRL’s mammal collection houses more than 116,500 voucher specimens, and continues to expand in size and in taxonomic and geographic diversity. The Mammal Collection represents a permanent record of the natural history of Texas and the United States in general. In addition, through the efforts of faculty, research associates, and students of Texas Tech University, the fauna of many other countries, such as former Yugoslavia, Paraguay, Mexico, and Peru, are represented in the collections. In recent years, multiple studies have been conducted in Ecuador, Honduras, Malaysia, the Ukraine, and other regions of the world, as well as continuing throughout Texas and the southwestern U.S.
Nearly 80% of the specimens are in the form of dried skin and/or skull and skeletal material preparations, while the rest are fluid-preserved specimens housed in a separate collection area. The dried skin and skeletal preparations are stored in 732 metal cabinets. These cabinets are specially designed to keep the specimens safe from UV light, dust, occasional insect pests, and other harmful agents. The cabinets are mounted on compactor rails to maximize storage capacity.
The Mammal Collection includes a collection of holotype specimens (see photo, top left). Holotype specimens are among the most scientifically valuable specimens in a collection, as they are used, through comparison, to verify the identification of other specimens thought to be the same species or subspecies. Holotype specimens at the NSRL are stored under lock and key in a separate location from the rest of the mammal collection and are protected by strict rules for their use.
Every specimen is labeled with information concerning its species, sex, collector, preparator, collecting location, and other pieces of collecting data. Each specimen has also been given a catalog number and its data verified and entered into our searchable Vertebrate database. Specimens are housed in taxonomic order, so that all specimens of the same species are stored together. Within a species, specimens are further organized by country, state, county, and finally catalog number. As with the Genetic Resources Collection, specimens in the Mammal Collection are bar coded to improve efficiency in processing and maintaining an organized collection.