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The Mammals area has an active program of research, curation, and education that reaches round the world. Its staff includes two curators (Lawrence Heaney and Bruce Patterson), assistant collection manager (John Phelps), field biologist (Steve Goodman), and several people on term positions, as well as honorary associates, including adjunct curator Julian Kerbis Peterhans.  The collections were founded in 1893 -- through field research programs around the world, they have grown into one of the largest (>212,000 specimens) and most heavily used mammal collections in the world. 

We currently pursue research programs in Africa (including Madagascar), Asia, and North and South America in active collaboration with colleagues in each of those areas.  Our research often results in the discovery of new species, generates new information on the ecology and evolution of mammalian biodiversity, and leads to more effective protection of threatened species. 

At any given time, from two to four graduate students from the University of Chicago and University of Illinois are typically in residence, pursuing studies under the direction of the curators.  Other graduate students, undergraduate students, and non-degree students participate in training programs both in Chicago as well as in the field.

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Mammals Collections

Mammal Collection

Established in 1894, the collection of the Division of Mammals is worldwide in scope.  It contains more than 209,000 specimens and is one of the most heavily used mammal collections in the world.  Its absolute size and geographic and taxonomic representation make it one of the most significant collections for specimen-based studies in mammalogy. A total of 540 primary type specimens have been catalogued. 

Mammal Taxonomy

The Mammal collection is organized according to "Mammal Species of the World, 3rd ed." (Wilson and Reeder, 2005), with some modifications. However, users are cautioned that historical names may still be in use. If you do not find the taxon you seek in the main mammal collection search, try our taxonomy option to find how it might be filed within our collection. While we strive for accuracy in the data presented, we cannot guarantee it and urge users to verify all data. Currently records from Madagascar are not available.

A composite of three photographs related to taxidermist Carl Akeley: Akeley standing near a leopard he killed, one scene from the "Four Seasons of the Deer" diorama, and a view of African elephants.

Photo Archives - Carl Akeley Collection

Carl Akeley worked at The Field Museum from 1896 to 1909, collecting and mounting animals for the Museum's exhibitions.  While working at The Field Museum he pioneered a number of advancements in the field of taxidermy.  Among them was a method of sculpting the underlying mannequin that gives all of his work its perfectly lifelike appearance.  Akeley was also ground breaking in posing animals in accurate recreations of their natural habitats.  Akeley's brilliant work can still be seen today in a number of The Field Museum's exhibitions.