Founded in 1869, the AMNH mammal collections are among the oldest in the museum. Today, the Department of Mammalogy houses over 275,000 specimens, making it the third largest collection of recent mammals in the world. Taxonomic coverage is particularly broad (100% of the 26 mammalian orders; 96% of the 136 families; about 50% of the 1135 genera and about 60% of the 4629 species), and the collection contains over 1200 name-bearing type specimens. The collections of marsupials, insectivores, bats, primates, rodents, carnivores, whales and ungulates are recognized as being among the best in the world.
The scientific mission of the Department of Mammalogy is to describe the diversity of living and recently extinct mammals and to explore the mechanisms responsible for their evolution and extinction. In fulfillment of this objective, the department collects, archives and studies specimens of recent mammals and the data associated with those specimens. We aim always to provide the highest standards of curatorial care and to promote access to the collections by other scholars. The collections are visited by an average of 130 researchers every year, and the Department loans over 500 specimens a year to researchers around the globe.
The Recent Mammals Collection, together with the remarkable collection of books, journals and manuscripts of the Department Library and Archives provides scholars with outstanding resources for research in mammalian systematics, biodiversity and evolutionary biology.