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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Myrmecophaga tridactyla (Giant Anteater), Bolivia. L. H. Emmons. © Smithsonian Institution.


The Division of Mammals is in the midst of a staff transition. Several long-time staff have recently retired, and it may be many months before we will be able to replace some of them. In the meantime, please understand that we may need additional time to respond to visitor requests and loans in particular. We will continue to serve the scientific community as best as we can under these circumstances.


The Division of Mammals considers requests from researchers wishing to destructively sample specimens. Activities classified as destructive include the dissection of fluid preserved specimens, the removal of subsamples from integument and bone (e.g. hair, skin, osteocrusts), the sectioning of teeth and bones, removal of parasites, embryos, stomach contents, etc. If you are requesting tissues for sequence data, please check to see if frozen tissues are available first (see Genetic Resources).

Protocol for Requests

To make a request, fill out a Destructive Sampling Application and email it to mammalloans[at] Decisions are made by a committee of Curators and Collections Managers, many of whom are often in the field and out of contact for short periods of time, so please submit your request well in advance of any personal deadlines. Like most museums, we do not loan specimens for destructive sampling and we do not offer sampling services—you will be expected to come to the museum to take approved samples yourself under the supervision of one of our collections management staff.

The NMNH grants destructive sampling requests with the understanding that they are loans, and we will want any unused portions or products of the sample returned. As with all loans, they are made to institutions, not individuals. For this reason requests from students must be cosigned with or submitted by a faculty member (and preferably the advisor) accepting responsibility for the loan.

Please review details of our Tissue and Destructive Sampling Policy before submitting your request form.

Destructive sampling requests are given careful consideration, but they are not always approved. We must continually weigh the merits of the proposed research against our best estimate of future demands for the specimen. Please respect the final determination of our destructive sampling committee.

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