Vertebrate Department



The main collection comprises study skins, altogether c. 110,000 specimens of c. 7,000 species. This collection is arranged in systematic order and with a geographical subdivision within individual species (Denmark, the North Atlantic dependencies Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, Scandinavia and other geographical areas).

C. 50% of this collection is from Denmark and the North Atlantic Dependencies, obtained mainly by Finn Salomonsen. There are modest collections from Scandinavia and relatively little from other parts of Europe. Important sections comprise the private collection of Lehn Schiøler of c. 30,000 Nordic waterfowl, collected mainly for detailed studies of of seasonal and age-related plumage variations. Large series also exist of shorebirds. The series of gyrfalcons Falco rusticolus comprises c. 800 specimens , representing c. half of all material kept in museums. An historically important collection is c. 100 mounts from the beginning of the 19th Century (Peter C. Wöldike).

Other geographical areas will represented are West Siberia (Hans Johansen), coast of China (Axel Hemmingsen), material from the Galathea and Noona Dan expeditions, notably from Mindanao and the Bismarck and Solomon Islands (Finn Salomonsen, L. Ferdinand), Tanzania (Thorkild Andersen), southeastern Brazil (Reinhardt) and recent material from the Andes mountains, notably Peru (Jon Fjeldså, Niels Krabbe).

6,000 mounted birds from the public exhibits in Krystalgade comprise material from all over the world. The egg collections comprise 12,000 whole clutches, mainly of Nordic birds, but also some uncatalogued material.

Anatomical collections comprise c. 10,000 spirit specimens and c. 14,000 skeletons (half of which are body skeletons of birds kept as study skins). These collections comprise good series of specimens of known age of Cycnus olor, Accipiter gentilis, Buteo buteo and Larus argentatus. ZMUC participates in the published international inventories of avian anatomical collections.

The following rarities should be mentioned: a dodo (Didus ineptus) skull and considerable subfossil material of dodo and solitaire; two mounted specimens, an egg, soft parts (in spirit) and some skeletal material of great auk (Pinguinus impennis), the only known female of the crested shelduck (Tadorna cristata) and c. 30 type specimens.

Avian tissue collections (mainly blood samples) were established in 1987 for DNA studies. These comprise samples of c. 1700 species, some of which are represented by large series. Databases can be viewed and samples can be ordered over e-mail.

Although nearly all material has been identified to species modern revision and cataloguing are lacking for c. 10% of the collections. In general, however, all the material is easily retrievable.

Because of insufficient taxidermic and curatorial assistance in recent years there has not been sufficient capacity for computerisation of the holdings (apart from the newly established tissue collection). However, interrelated databases have been developed in connection with research programs in the Tropics, permitting curatorial menus and menus for observational data derived from current field studies to be related to gazetteers in a Geographical Information System. This will be developed as a robust PC package which can be distributed to collaborating institutions and individuals in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

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Last update: 31 maj 2007
Responsible Web-editor for Vertebrate Department: Jon Fjeldså