Research Collections of the Zoological Institute RAS — Mammals (Mammalia)

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Mammalian Collection of the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences currently contains more than 140 000 specimens (skulls, skins, and bodies in alcohol), some part of which (about 500 units) are permanently exhibited in the Zoological Museum. Most parts of it are stored at the Fauna History and Systematic and Phylogeny Departments of the Laboratory of Theriology, and are available to scientists only. Species from different continents and the World Ocean, in addition to «Mammoth Fauna», are the basis of the Collection. Due to the works of Dr. Alexander Averianov during the last two decades the Collection is replenished by Neogenic, Paleogenic and Late Mesozoic mammals (Docodonta, Zalambdalestoidea, Ctenodactiloidea, etc.) discovered on the territory of Russia and adjacent countries.

Mammalian Collection of the Zoological Institute (Zoological Museum) originated from the 450 units of Collection of St. Petersburg (Petrovsky) Kunstkamera that included the famous Collection of Brazilian mammals from Langsdorff expedition (1822–1829) and materials from Pallas Siberian expeditions (XVIII century). Additionally the complete skeleton of a mammoth discovered in the Lena River Delta was brought from Kunstkamera.

During the first 30 years (since 1831) under academician Fedor Brandt the Collection increased to 1 000 specimens. Before 1900 more than 10 000 units were collected owing to buying, donations and field expeditions. The most significant buying was done by Acad. F. Brandt in 1871. Then Prof. E. Eversmann's collection of 112 mammals species was purchased. The famous geographical expedition of Ilya Voznesenski, Leopold Schrenk, and especially Nikolay Przewalski greatly enriched the funds of Zoological Museum and gave new information about distribution and taxonomy of the Palaearctic theriofauna. At the same time Ivan Cherskii started explorations of the Arctic Siberian collections of Toll and Bunge that marked the beginning of studying of the Quaternary Period.

Between 1900 and 2000 collection increased to 120 000 specimens. Before 1917 the Collection was replenished owing to field expeditions of L. Berg, S. Baturlin, V. Novitskii, P. Kozlov. Some materials were passed by St. Petersburg Zoological Garden (Zoo) also. Significant adornment of the Museum was the first unique finding in 1900 of stuffed adult mammoth from Berezovka River. During this period number of collection units increased to 30 000. The Soviet period of the Collection development was closely associated with large-scale geographical expeditions of the USSR Academy of Sciences when more than 90 000 specimens were collected. The important collectors of this period were A. Argiropulo, B. Vinogradov, E. Pavlowskiy, N. Vereshchagin, P. Strelkov, et al. In 1980 considerable replenishment was made due to acquiring of Far-Eastern mammals collections of N. Vorontsov.

Since 2000 the Collection has increased to 140 000 specimens owing to resuming expeditions of the Russian-Vietnamese Tropical Center and South-East Asian field works of Dr. A. Abramov, who received dozens of tropical small mammals. Several thousand Lipotyphlans specimens were passed from Far-Eastern collection of M. Okhotina during 2002–2006. Annual replenishment are performed by Dr. G. Baryshnikov, who studied fossil material from the Pleistocene localities of Caucasus.

Mammalian Collection of the Zoological Institute of RAS are unique in taxonomic composition and geographical distribution and represent the members of all mammalian groups — Monotremata, Metatheria and Eutheria. Total of type specimens is more than 800 units. The Collection was traditionally used for preparing of special monographs of «Fauna of USSR» series, «Fauna of Russia and adjacent territories», and «Mammals of Fauna of USSR» and «Mammals of Fauna of Russia and adjacent territories», which were published by the Zoological Institute since 1933.

Staff of the Laboratory of Theriology published 20 mentioned monographs for Lagomorpha, Lipotyphla, Rodentia, Artiodactyla, Perissodactyla, Carnivora. These comprise taxonomic revisions within the World Fauna and Identification Keys for Palaearctic and World Fauna species.


Collection Curator

Dr. Mikhail Sablin, Principal Researcher of the Laboratory of Theriology, Head of the Laboratory of Theriology

Tel.: +7 (812) 328-07-11, ext. 244
Laboratory of Theriology, Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences
199034, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya nab., 1