Mammalogy Collections

With more than 55,000 specimens, the Burke Mammal Collection is among the largest in the Pacific Northwest. It is also one of the oldest collections in the Pacific Northwest, having been founded in 1899 as part of the original Washington State Museum. Today, the collection ranks as the 10th largest university collection in North America and the 18th largest collection in the Western Hemisphere.

The Mammalogy Collection database includes over 55,000 specimen records, including more than 9,000 specimens that have tissue samples archived in the Burke’s Genetic Resources Collection.

Collection Details

Preserved rodent specimens with identification tags lying face down on a white background
Photo: Andrew Waits
Types of Specimens

Of the 55,000 cataloged specimens in the Mammal Collection, more than:

  • 29,000 include a skin (typically a study skin, but sometimes flat or live-mount skins)
  • 40,000 include a skull
  • 8,000 include a complete skeleton
  • 1,000 are preserved in fluid
  • 9000 have a frozen tissue sample archived in the Burke's Genetic Resources Collection 

Taxonomic Coverage
The collection includes representatives of 892 of the world's 5,416 species of mammals, 28 of the 29 mammalian orders, and 117 of the 153 mammalian families. The collection also includes 2 name-bearing type specimens.

  • Rodents (37,582 specimens; 339 species)
  • Bats (3,015 specimens; 145 species)
  • Marine mammals (615 specimens; 44 species)
  • Primates (220 specimens; 42 species)
  • One extinct mammal species (a single rib of a Steller's sea cow)

Geographic Coverage
The collection contains specimens from all continents except Antarctica, and it has a strong regional emphasis. Over half of our specimens are from Washington State with good representation also from Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska.

Notable Specimen Sources
The Collection has acquired a wide diversity of mammals from the Woodland Park Zoo, and is the designated repository for mammal mortalities from the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program and the Mt. St. Helens National Monument. We also receive specimens from law enforcement agencies (U.S. Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service) and several local marine mammal stranding networks overseen by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

If you have a specimen you would like to donate, see the Services & Policies page.


Collections-Related Services

For more information about specimen loans or visiting the collections, see the Services and Policies page.

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