Sternberg Museum completes acquisition of herpetology collection

Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History has finished acquiring a 10,070-specimen herpetology collection from The Center for North American Herpetology in Lawrence.

" The vast majority of the specimens in the collection are whole animals, and most of our efforts are directed to obtaining and adding whole animals," said Travis Taggart, Sternberg Museum associate curator.

" The collection is quite diverse. Some specimens are very difficult to acquire."

Taggart said one of the rarest specimens in the collection is that of the Mountain Earth snake. According to Taggart, they live in the Appalachian mountains and spend most of their time underground or under rocks. Their very small size also makes them difficult to spot.

About 400 specimens in the collection are represented by snake skins only. Samples were collected from 17 states, including Kansas, New Mexico, and South Carolina. Animal parts such as skins, skeletons, and eggs are added as discovered and are used by DNA researchers for study.

" People who want to do DNA research don't have to do the collection themselves, which often can be time consuming or expensive," said Taggart. "They can contact us and we can send them a sample."

The final consignment of 307 shed skin samples was recently received by the Sternberg Museum. All but one of the specimens were snake skins, with the remaining specimen being from a slender glass lizard.

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