River otter lounging on rocks


More than 19,000 specimens

Mammalogy is the study of mammals – a class of vertebrates with characteristics such as fur, four-chambered hearts, and complex nervous systems. There are about 4,200 different species of mammals, and the field branches of into focused studies of species like marine mammals and primates.

The Bell Museum’s mammal collection currently houses approximately 19,000 catalogued specimens. Of these, the vast majority are standard, dry skin and skull preparations, but we have an reasonably large collection of full skeletons and a growing collection of fluid preserved specimens. Geographically, most specimens come from collections made in the United States and the majority of these are from Minnesota. Internationally, the collections are particularly strong in specimens from Argentina and Chile and from Mexico.

We also have historically important collections from the Philippines and several dozen taxidermy mounts from African bovids. In addition to this research collection, we maintain a dedicated teaching collection that is actively used by courses at the University.

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas

The Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas is a searchable, public map showing where Bell Museum animal, plant, and fungal specimens have been found and collected. The Atlas focuses on Minnesota, the meeting place of three of the world’s largest terrestrial ecosystems: eastern broadleaf forests, tallgrass prairies, and coniferous forests. It also represents moments in history before key changes occurred to the landscape, environment, and climate.

What’s most exciting, scientists will use the data in the Atlas to forecast where ecosystems and their associated species may be found in the future.

Learn more

Collection Curator

Dr. Sharon Jansa

Jansa Lab

Graduate Researchers

Danielle Drabeck, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, Ph.D. candidate
Carmen Martin, Conservation Sciences
Dakota Rowsey, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, Ph.D. candidate