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Collections Division

Recent Invertebrates

Invertebrates comprise an overwhelmingly large portion of the earth's biodiversity. By some estimates they constitute more than 95% of the world's animals, accounting for many millions of species. Insects alone, for example, include more than a million described species.

The Collection of Recent Invertebrates, with its >500,000 specimens, presents a nice sampling of invertebrate diversity. Focus of the collection is on Oklahoma invertebrates, but it also contains specimens from more than 100 countries and territories. We are unique among invertebrate collections by pursuing cataloging of all of our specimens. To date, more than 280,000 individual specimens have been cataloged and are available on-line (see the Invertebrates Database) or via the portals of GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and NBII (National Biological Information Infrastructure).butterfly

The collection contains perhaps the largest and most comprehensive collection of Byrrhoidea, an aquatic beetle superfamily, in the world. This specialized collection contains approximately 150,000 specimens, both pointed and in alcohol. Harley P. Brown, often thought as the world's authority on Byrrhoidea, amassed this collection during his fifty years of work with the group. Although focused on the Americas (Mexico and the United States), 60 other countries also are represented. The collection has been characterized as the finest series of Oklahoma stream beetles in the world due to Dr. Brown's special attention to the state. The collection contains >100 type specimens for new genera and species as well as many hundreds of paratypes.

Recent databasing and re-curation of the Coleoptera in the collection has uncovered a hidden treasure of European beetles, estimated to have been collected before World-War II. This includes a large synoptic set of several genera of Chrysomelidae, Cerambycidae, and other diverse beetle families. Localities of some specimens include the Ukraine, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bosnia.

Another treasure of the collection is the Oklahoma Odonata, comprising about 5,000 specimens. This collection was begun by R. D. Bird in the 1920s, and was added to throughout the century by collectors such as G. H. Bick, E. B. Williamson, A. I. Ortenburger, and L. K. Gloyd. The collection contains multiple paratypes, including two Oligoclada from Colombia and Venezuela.

The malacology collection was re-curated and databased in 2007-2009 with grant support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The collection consists of >6,400 lots comprising 37,000 minimum individuals of freshwater and marine mollusks representing 30 orders, 181 families, and 835 genera from >75 countries and territories. Thirty-seven US states are represented, with 68 of 77 Oklahoma counties. The Oklahoma specimens provide an invaluable record of the diversity in the region since 1903 (with large supplemental collections made in the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s), and document a major component of the biological diversity of aquatic environments prior to major development projects that changed the state's ecosystems.

The collection also includes large historical collections of crayfish, spiders (the Ortenburger-Banks spider collection of about 900 specimens), beetles (including a synoptic collection of the Karl Stephan collection), butterflies and moths (the Loy collection), and diptera.



Invertebrates Database

Loan and Sampling Agreement (All SNOMNH Departments)

Loan and Sampling Policy (All SNOMNH Departments)

Loan and Sampling Request (All SNOMNH Departments)

Procedures for Insect Loans



Dr. Katrina Menard,


Dr. Andy Boring,

Collection Manager


Laura Sohl-Smith,

Collection Assistant


Brent Tweedy,

Graduate Collection Assistant

Laura Figueroa,

Undergraduate Collection Assistant

Affiliated Research Associates

Dr. Kenneth R. Hobson

Dr. William Shepard

Dr. Cheryl Barr

Dr. Charles Mather


SNOMNH Invertebrates Blog!

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