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Much of what we know about biodiversity and its origins comes from the collection, preservation and ongoing study of natural specimens. Museum collections are libraries of the world’s biological, cultural and environmental history and are vital to our ability to interpret the past and understand our place in its future – information that profoundly affects our lives.
The University of Wyoming museums are stewards of this history, preserving it for posterity while fostering an informed appreciation of our complex and ever-changing world.
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Learn more about the University of Wyoming Collections.
Matt Carling, Director of the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates, on the importance and role of natural history collections and museums in the scientific project.
Why are natural history museums are important? Well, they are important because those collections provide us with a detailed record of what was where, and when it was there, and perhaps what the habitats looked like, and again since we can't go back in time, we can use Museum specimens we use natural history specimens, to try to understand what animals or what plants were present in a given location at a given time, what some of those habitats might have looked like, and again, this is a really important component of trying to understand how the past has influenced the present and then how we might go to use that information to predict how things might change in the future.
Dr. Matt Carling - Associate Professor of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming, and Curator of the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates, answers questions about natural science collections, the University of Wyoming Vertebrates, Click on a question and listen to (or read) Matt's perspective, as a curator, of science collections.
Go behind the scenes in 360° with Sir David Attenborough as he explains how museum collections help us learn more about — and protect — the natural world.
Emily Graslie, "Chief Curiosity Correspondent" for the Field Museum in Chicago, and host of her collections blog, The Brain Scoop, answers the ever-burning question: Why do we need so many dead things?
Specimens themselves, as well as their associated data, can be used to study organisms and their relationships, but those outside of the research community often use natural history collections, including: