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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
Artibeus watsoni
Artibeus watsoni (Thomas's Fruit-eating Bat), Costa Rica. N Woodman. © Smithsonian Institution.

The National Collections are maintained for posterity as an irreplaceable resource to promote scientific research. More than 400 scientists from around the world visit the Division of Mammals each year to conduct their research in the evolution, systematics, taxonomy, biogeography, ecology, and anatomy of mammals. Anthropologists make frequent use of the primate collection in their studies of human evolution. The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey is affiliated with the Division and has two curators on its staff. Other mammalogists maintain a regular presence here as researchers in residence and utilize the collections. Mammalogists also manage the Division's Marine Mammal Program.

Employees of both the Division of Mammals and Patuxent Wildlife Research Center perform a variety of collections management activities that support research. These include accessioning and cataloging new collections, preparing specimens, recurating portions of the collection (which often involves moving specimens into new storage facilities), preventing destructive pest outbreaks, and loaning some 1500 specimens a year to researchers unable to visit the museum. Information access to the USNM mammal collection is enhanced by over 550,000 specimen records contained in a computer database, a resource which helps to manage the collection and to answer as many as 200 information requests each year from scientists, government agencies, and conservation groups. Internet access to this database is publicly available.