Drawers of snowy owls.

The Research Museums Center’s first all-museums tour featured a potpourri of “hidden” treasures and a virtual journey through time on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Some 60 staff, faculty and students attended from the Departments of Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Their affiliate Museums of Anthropological Archaeology, Paleontology, Zoology and the University of Michigan Herbarium showcased samplings from their vast collections at the tour.

Cuban land snails, Polymita picta, air-breathing land snails endemic to Cuba and also known as painted snails. Polymita means “many stripes.”

“There was palpable enthusiasm and interest in the collections and it was a lot of fun,” said EEB Professor Christopher Dick, curator and associate chair for museum collections, U-M Herbarium and Museum of Zoology. The tour was offered to an internal audience.

To give a taste of the evening, a smattering of items described were: a mastodon skull; a small replica of a canoe from Emmet County, Mich., believed to have been made in the late 1800s to early 1900s from tree bark; Petoskey stones; a multitude of snakes, lizards and frogs encased in liquid filled jars; a preserved wasp colony with fruiting bodies of fungi emerging from the insects (a real live mini horror story); giant pinned dragonflies; a drawer full of snowy owl specimens, which appeared to be napping en masse; the bones of a baleen whale whose still pungent odor emanated from its cabinet; the shells of venomous snails, (one participant whispered, “I didn’t know there were venomous snails,”) and a beautiful assortment of preserved plants. Cody Thompson, mammals’ collection manager, demonstrated the CT machine.

Anthropological artifacts made in Michigan.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success: the collection managers who served as tour leaders/presenters: paleontology: Dan Miller; anthropological archaeology: Jim Moss, Lauren Fuka, Tim Everhart; zoology: Barry OConnor, (insects), Cody Thompson, (mammals), Janet Hinshaw (birds), Taehwan Lee, (mollusks), Greg Schneider, (reptiles/amphibians); herbarium: Tim James (fungi), Tony Reznicek, (vascular plants).

Making the event run smoothly behind the scenes were: Pat Rogers, collection manager, fungi, lichens and bryophytes; Rich Rabeler, associate research scientist, collection manager, vascular plants; Robbin Murrell, EEB administrative specialist; Michael Ehnis, EEB administrative specialist; Mélida Dick-Ruiz, volunteer; Chris Dick (from above); Matt Friedman, associate professor, EARTH, director, Museum of Paleontology; and Michael Galaty, professor of anthropology, director and curator, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology.

The cut and polished shell of an ammonite, an extinct cephalopod mollusk most closely related to modern octopuses, squid, cuttlefish, and the pearly nautilus. Like the pearly nautilus, ammonites had a chambered shell which helped them to control their buoyancy. In this specimen, which dates back to the Cretaceous Period, the chambers were filled with beautiful calcite crystals during the fossilization process.

Additional appreciation to the embedded guides: Diarmaid Ó Foighil, EEB professor and chair, curator, zoology; Priscilla Tucker, EEB professor and curator, zoology; Lisa Walsh, EEB graduate student, zoology; and John Torgersen, database administrator.Another tour is planned for fall 2019. "If you come to another tour, everything you see will be different," Dick told participants at the end of the evening.

See more images in this Google photo album


Janet Hinshaw describes some of the birds in the Museum of Zoology’s collection.