Collection Overview

The Mammal Collection is composed over 6,000 specimens. Most of our holdings are prepared as skins and skulls, although 20% of the collection consists of complete skeletal material. The collection contains 527 fluid-preserved specimens.

The greatest strength of our Mammal Collection is taxonomic diversity.

The collection is composed of mammals from every continent and contains at least one representative of almost every mammalian order. This is remarkable considering the difficulty of obtaining specimens from remote geographic regions and representatives of species that are strictly regulated by CITES (e.g., platypus, echidna, tiger, tapir, monkeys, many Australian marsupials).

Reflecting the many years that Dave Klingener devoted to the Mammal collections, we have especially strong collections of bats (both local and Neotropical species) and Massachusetts mammals. The latter is not limited to small mammals but includes carnivores (bear, bobcat, fisher, etc.), cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and artiodactyls (deer and moose). The cetacean collection is a unique asset and contains specimens representing a dozen species of toothed and baleen whales.

Curator: Dr. Todd Fuller

My research efforts focus on identifying factors affecting variation in mammal density and distribution. Whether a species is recognized as endangered, a nuisance, or harvestable, knowledge of its natural history and population ecology is essential in order to predict or responsibly manage population change. In order to better understand the mechanisms of this change, my students and I capture, mark, and monitor a variety of carnivores, ungulates, and smaller herbivores to document their movements, habitat use, food habits, survival, reproduction, social behavior, and density, then synthesize results from our own and other studies. We survey populations through direct and indirect means (e.g., scats, tracks, calls, cameras) to assess distribution and relative abundance, and also collaborate with colleagues to investigate roles of disease, genetics, nutrition, morphology, and human activities in population regulation and species conservation.

Margery Coombs showing the skull holotype of Lucashyus coombsae, an extinct peccary species named in her honor by Donald Prothero in 2015. Photo courtesy of the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. Dr. Coombs was also elected to Honorary Membership in the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2015.

Curator Emeritus: Dr. Margery Coombs

As a vertebrate paleontologist, specializing in fossil mammals, I have particular interest in the chalicotheres, a group of extinct, clawed herbivorous perissodactyls. I study the interrelationships, biogeography, biostratigraphy, and possible ecological interactions of these fascinating animals.

Now a Professor Emerita, I continue my research on chalicotheres and advise and collaborate with researchers worldwide. Although the UMass Natural History Collections do not include significant paleontological material, I also have affiliation with the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College, just a mile away, which has a classic collection of vertebrate fossils and dinosaur footprints. Fossils that I field collected from the Miocene of Nebraska are deposited there. I have often utilized the UMass Natural History Collections in teaching and for comparing fossil material with skeletons of living vertebrates. A list and downloadable pdfs of my published research are available on Researchgate:

More Information

For more information about the Mammalogy Collection, contact Vertebrate Collections Manager, Katherine Doyle.