MNA is more than just a Flagstaff attraction. Our zoological collections and research have long been significant components of the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the 300,000 specimen invertebrate collection is the finest and most complete in the region. The vertebrate collection includes approximately 22,500 specimens, with representatives of nearly all vertebrate taxa on the southern Colorado Plateau. These collections serve as a foundation for regional research into modern and changing Colorado Plateau biodiversity. Specimens identified as type specimens, threatened and endangered species, and voucher specimens are among the most significant holdings.
MNA houses an extensive regional collection of invertebrates from northern Arizona and the southern Colorado Plateau, including major collections (many from Native American Tribal lands), many first records of species from the southern Colorado Plateau, a large number of species new to science, and a growing number of type specimens. In all, MNA houses more than 300,000 invertebrate specimens. A total of 79,253 specimens have been databased, including 4,899 species in 1,655 genera among 409 families in 67 orders or higher taxa. The collection features extensive or complete collections of the spiders, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and aculeate Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps) of the southern Colorado Plateau. In many cases the MNA holdings are the only complete collections of those taxa from the region. For example, the MNA collection contains 30 tiger beetle taxa from the southern Colorado Plateau, of which nearly one quarter are endemic (unique) to the region. Also, of the nearly 150 butterfly taxa represented from the southern Plateau in the MNA collections, at least 7 (5%) are endemic. More than 20 (10.5%) of the 191 robber fly species in the MNA database may be new to science.
MNA’s comprehensive vertebrate zoology collection contains representatives of nearly all documented vertebrate taxa from the southern Colorado Plateau. Specimen counts total approximately:
- 5,000 fishes representing 7 orders, 7 families, 20 genera and 23 species
- 1,200 amphibians representing 8 families, 13 genera and 32 species
- 2,750 reptiles representing 19 families, 46 genera and 91 species
- 8,300 birds representing 23 orders, 78 families, 334 genera and 601 species
- 5,300 mammals representing 9 orders, 26 families, 69 genera and 133 species
Notable holdings include the Lyndon L. Hargrave Avian Osteology, the Charles L. Douglas Mammal Osteology Collections, and the National Park Service River collections.
The Lyndon L. Hargrave collection of approximately 3,500 avian specimens contains examples of most of the documented local avifauna of the region as well as about 350 specimens collected from across the globe. The collection is attributed to Lyndon L. Hargrave, MNA’s Curator of Ornithology from 1934-1939. MNA also holds an avian egg collection of approximately 200 egg sets from 97 species and a feather collection.
The Charles L. Douglas collection is a remarkably valuable mammalian osteology collection that documents the occurrence and distribution of mammals across the Colorado Plateau and the Southwest. The collection, numbering more than 300 individuals was systematically built over a forty year period by mammalogist, Dr. Charles Douglas. Among the fauna represented are rabbits and hares, a wide variety of rodents, large artiodactyls and carnivores. In addition to the osteology collection, the Douglas collection also contains a comparative mammal hair collection, as well as a comparative seed collection.