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Herpetology Department

Research Collections


The herpetology collection contains approximately 325,000 specimens preserved in alcohol. As of January 2008, the alcoholic collection held 138,838 amphibians and 185,535 reptiles. There are more than 2400 primary type specimens (holotypes, syntypes, lectotypes and neotypes), including about 1100 holotypes. In addition, there are over 14,000 paratypes.

Several special collections supplement the alcoholic collection, these include:

  • 7,459 dried skeletons and skulls broken down as follows: caecilians 59; salamanders 295; frogs 1211; turtles 960; lizards 4150; snakes 750; amphisbaenids 30; rhynchocephalians (tuatara) 4
  • Wet skeletons, several hundred specimens, mostly amphibians, cleared and stained for bone and cartilage
  • Chromosomes slides, over 20,000 slides from 200+ species of over 2,500 specimens. Most are from Anolis, Sceloporus and other lizards and turtles. Each slide is cross-referenced to the corresponding voucher specimen.
  • Scanning electron micrographs, >4700 and associated specimen mounts, primarily squamate scales
  • Embryology/histology slides, a small but important serial section collection

The information stored in the MCZ herpetology collection is of great historical value and nearly unparalleled in the research opportunities it provides in systematics, biogeography, ecology, morphology, and many other aspects of the biology of amphibians and reptiles.

Specimen data for the MCZ Herpetology collection is available for searching online through MCZbase (Amphibians, Reptiles, Micrographs) as well as through Herpnet and GBIF.