The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' mammal collection contains approximately 20,000 specimens and is one of the largest regional mammal 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 21 orders, 75 families, 246 genera, and 529 species. Specimen holdings are especially strong in the orders Rodentia, Soricimorpha, Artiodactyla, Chiroptera, Carnivora, Lagomorpha, Didelphimorphia, Cetacea and Sirenia.
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 also contains articulated skeletons on exhibit including a manatee and six great whales (Blue, (2) Right, Humpback, Sperm and True's Beaked Whales). The holdings of marine mammals include 231 individuals in 35 species representing 13 families and 3 orders. A growing tissue collection — heart, liver, kidney, leg muscle and some other tissue types — are stored in 95% ethanol and are available for DNA or other research studies. This collection of nearly 2800 tissues is stored in a -80°C ultra-cold freezer for long-term preservation.
Care of the collection is the responsibility of the permanent staff of the Mammalogy 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 Herbert H. Brimley and Clement 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 919.707.9946 and Collections Manager of Mammalogy Benjamin Hess at email@example.com or 919.707.9944.