The Mammal Collection is a scientific collection of extant or recently extinct mammals (prehistoric creatures can be found in the Paleontological collection). The collection comprises around 680 of the totally about 5,580 mammal species globally (ref. Wilson & Reeder‘s Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition). Approximately 100 of these have been collected in Norway.
The objects in the collection are preserved as mounted specimens, hides, skeletons or in ethanol (mainly rodents). During the later decades, a new sub-collection has been built up, consisting of mammalian tissue and extracted DNA samples. This is also part of the NHMO DNA Bank. The samples have partly been taken from existing objects in the Mammal collection, partly from newly arrived mammals, e.g. road kills and other salvage.
The collection contains considerable sub-collections of polar bear skulls, mainly from the Norwegian parts of the species’ distribution range, Scandinavian wolves, and European otters and rodents from Norway.
Scientific curator during the later decades, Øystein Wiig (recently retired), has been performing intensive research on Arctic marine mammals, mainly polar bear, walrus and bowhead whale.
The Mammal Collection is mostly used for scientific purposes and is available for researchers worldwide. Some objects are also on display in the public exhibitions.
Highlights from the collection
- Carl Lumholtz' collections from Australia (1880–84) and Borneo (1914–16)
- Knut Dahl's collections from South Africa (1893–94) and Australia (1894–96)
- Objects from Fridtjof Nansen (1888–1893), Otto Sverdrup (1898–1902) and Roald Amundsen (1901–1921)
Polar bear Ursus maritimus, ca. 440
Reindeer Rangifer tarandus, ca. 3,600 (mainly from Svalbard, R. t. platyrhynchus)
European otter Lutra lutra, ca. 2,100
Soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus, ca. 2,700
Arctic fox Vulpes lagopus, ca. 600 (mainly from Svalbard)
Red fox Vulpes vulpes, ca. 500
Publications about the collection
Wiig, Ø. & Bachmann, L. (2013) The mammal type specimens at the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norway. Zootaxa, 3736, 587-597. Open Access