A community of scholars dedicated to studying the evolutionary origins, history, maintenance and conservation of the world's biota, to archiving and documenting changes in biodiversity through its research collections and to educating our students in this search for knowledge.

The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s collections date to the founding of the state of Michigan in 1837. Our collections, organized into six divisions, are an integral component of research programs for eight curators, five research scientists, twelve postdoctoral fellows and twenty-four graduate students. We average approximately $877,000/year in extramural funding and $248,000/year in funding from endowments for research and collections support.

  • 6723 = Total number of visitors to our collections in the last five years
  • 625 = Total number of publications in the last five years
  • 195 = Total number of undergraduate students engaged in research and collection support in the last five years

Database queries of vertebrate collections worldwide

The UMMZ digital records are the most queried collection in the world. Our six collection managers, together with curators, work to provide access to our collections, comprising close to 14 million specimens to researchers both nationally and internationally.


Ranking: 2nd largest among university collections
Fast facts: Among the world’s largest specimen holdings
from Mexico, Paraguay, India and Egypt. Large early 20th
century holdings from North America now serving as basis
for research on climate change impacts on birds. 

Ranking: 2nd largest, behind the Smithsonian, in North America
Fast facts: Exceptional holdings of North American fishes.
The collections are the basis of hundreds of monographs and
papers analyzing evolution of fishes of the Great Lakes, North
America, most continents, and oceans. Studies of all-female
species, molecular systematics, biogeography, morphometrics,
and conservation were developed at Michigan.

Ranking: 3rd to 4th largest among university collections.
Fast facts: World class Orthopteran collection reflecting a
history of curators with a special focus on crickets and
grasshoppers. The collection of Acari (mites & ticks) is
among the largest in the country, with specific strengths in
symbionts of vertebrates, invertebrates and fungi.

Ranking: 4th largest among university collections
Fast facts: Oldest university collection predating Harvard’s
MCZ by 22 years. Nearly 1/4 of the specimens in the
collection are deer mice, also known as the
Drosophila of North American mammalogy.

Ranking: 4th largest among university collections for fresh water mollusks
Fast facts: World’s best research collection of “killer” cone
snails. Home to frozen samples of an entire extinct fauna -
Society Islands tree snails - allowing us to study a mass
extinction event.

Reptiles and Amphibians:
Ranking: Largest among university collections worldwide
Fast facts: World’s largest collection of caecilians, a bizarre
limbless group of burrowing amphibians. The UMMZ’s
first curator of herpetology, Alexander G. Ruthven, established
Michigan as a global leader for the study of reptiles
and amphibians and served as president of the University of
Michigan from 1929 until his retirement in 1951.