Division of Vertebrate Natural History

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Michigan State University Museum was founded in 1857, making our natural history collections among the oldest in the United States.  The collections were established in response to College President Joseph R. Williams calling for “cabinets of natural science specimens… especially [those] of the State of Michigan.”  Faculty member Manley Miles contributed the first specimens, which he had acquired while working as an assistant on a natural history survey of Michigan.

More on the history of the MSU Museum Vertebrate Collections.

Today, the collections (Mammalogy, Ornithology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, and Vertebrate Paleontology) are encompassed within the Museum’s Division of Vertebrate Natural History. While still emphasizing Michigan and the Great Lakes region, the collections are worldwide in scope, and provide a record of biodiversity that ranges from the 1830s to the current day. Research access is available to qualified investigators.  Separate teaching collections are available for use in MSU classes, exhibits, and public programs.

Support for collections care and conservation is provided by Michigan State University, federal granting agencies, annual fundraisers, private donations, and the Dr. Marvin “Max” Hensley Endowment for Vertebrate Collections.

MSU's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism drew on MSU Museum ornithology collections for the award-winning "Dying to Be Heard" documentary. Watch a preview here: http://ej.msu.edu/environmenttv/index.html

Questions About Animals?

Wildlife & Natural History Q-line



The Division of Vertebrate Natural History would like to thank "Team Fossil" students Steve Black, Sean Leahy, Jermil Sadler, and Darin Young for redesigning and updating our web pages for their Information Technology Management Capstone class project (ITM444 Fall 2004, Professor Brian Pentland). http://www.bus.msu.edu/itmp/capstone/

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