Coleman Sheehy, the herpetology collection manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History, discusses the crocodilian collection, including what species are in it, and how the collection is used.
Interview and videos produced by Gage Chancey for Explore Research at the University of Florida.
Coleman Sheehy: The crocodilian collection here at the Florida Museum of Natural History is a huge collection. There are about 24 or 25 different species of crocodilians that are alive today, recognized around the world.
That number varies depending on how many species; some people consider if the same species were separated. But nonetheless, we have every single one of those specimens represented — every one of those species represented — here in the museum. And not only that but we have over 1,900 different specimens of crocodilians here and if you compare that with collections around the world, this collection here at the museum is the largest anywhere.
It’s the largest collection of crocodilian specimens anywhere in the world and that includes some specimens that are recently described like the genus Mecistops that we have here. There are a few species of those now and we have members of those — members of that genus as well, which are, like I said, just relatively recently described. So it’s really the largest collection anywhere in the world, which is a neat thing to be able to say.
The crocodilian collection here at the Florida Museum of Natural History is used by many researchers from all around the world in all sorts of different ways. We have, first of all, two main types of specimens. So we have some that are what we call wet specimens — they’re preserved in ethanol so they’re wet, and we have a whole different collection of them that we call dry specimens that are represented by skeletons or skins or something like that.
And so depending on the studies that people are doing they usually visit or request to use one or both of those different specimens. If they are wet specimens and they’re really big, then typically researchers will come here and people visit here from all over the world to use our crocodilian collection.
Learn more about the Herpetology collection at the Florida Museum.