GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The University of Michigan recently welcomed thousands of reptiles to its campus. Don’t worry, they won’t be slithering around Ann Arbor anytime soon.
The Museum of Zoology recently welcomed a collection from Oregon State University that contains approximately 45,000 reptile and amphibian specimens. Thirty thousand of the specimens are snakes, bringing the museum’s total number to 70,000.
This would make the snake collection the largest in the entire world, which brings researchers from across the globe to Ann Arbor to conduct examinations.
“We’re sort of known within the community as having this sort of resource and providing the scientific opportunity in that sense,” curator Dan Rabosky said. “We can do things at Michigan that we can’t do anywhere else on Earth.”
The reptiles and amphibians arrived in jars filled with alcohol to preserve the specimens. More than 100 boxes were needed to transport them from their original lab at Oregon State University. The professors who were in charge of the specimens recently retired.
The collection was brought to the Museum of Zoology in Ann Arbor because one of the professors received a doctorate from UM, but also because the museum has the space and data collection process to handle the thousands of additions.
“Michigan seemed like a pretty natural place because we have a pretty good track record of creating resources, making them available to researchers,” Rabosky said. “We take data and put it online, people can use it, we have genetic samples that people can come here and take those things. People can come and visit our collections and work with our stuff.”
The new reptiles and amphibians will soon be ready for researchers to use to help answer scientific questions. A big emphasis for the collection will be on genetic changes within a species or ecosystem, as there are generations of the same creature.
But before that, Rabosky said the museum will be spending a lot of time categorizing each specimen in order to provide the best data for those with questions.
“Honestly, the collection is so large that one of the first things that we have to do is simply figure out what is there,” he said. “This is going to take us a long time.”
You can check out photos of the collection by clicking here.