Wet Collection
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Herpetology collections typically fall into 2 main categories: wet and skeletal. The Yale Peabody Museum’s Division of Vertebrate Zoology has over 22,000 wet specimens, and over 2,500 skeletons.


Wet Collection

The term “wet” in wet collections is literally true. Specimens in wet collections are stored in some sort of fluid, which differs depending on the developmental stage of the animal and the desired use of the specimen.

At the Yale Peabody Museum amphibian larvae are kept in 10% buffered formalin, while other specimens are maintained in 70% ethanol. The main reason for storing larvae in formalin is that ethanol tends to dehydrate specimens, resulting in a reduction in their usefulness to researchers.

Another “wet” preparation type is that of clearing and staining, a process whereby a specimen is made transparent and the bones and cartilage are stained different colors. This is particularly useful when studying the developmental biology of a given species.

Specimens maintained as “wet” are useful to several different types of research. Most recently, the herpetology wet collection has been used in studies of feeding ecology, reproductive biology, developmental biology and parasitology. Additionally, specimens are used for studies in conservation genetics and systematics.

The Yale Peabody Museum’s collections are available to legitimate researchers for scholarly use. Loans are issued to responsible individuals at established institutions. Loans and access to the collection can be arranged through the Collections Manager.

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