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The Mammal Collection was begun in 1936 as part of the statewide plant and animal survey under the direction of Ms. Fannye Cook. During the WPA survey period (1936-1941), over 5,900 mammal specimens were collected, prepared, and cataloged into the fledgling museum's permanent collections. Collections made during this period comprise 76% of the current Mammal Collection. Field collection of mammals has been much less intensive since this initial survey, however, through collection and salvage of specimens by Museum Staff, deposition of specimens from research projects, and donations by the public, there are approximately 7,743 specimens cataloged into the Mammal Collection. Most specimens are from Mississippi with 79 of the 82 counties represented by specimens. Additionally, there are specimens from 11 other states and Canada. A total of 77 species is represented in the Mammal Collection. Rodents, particularly murids/cricetids, comprise 69% of the collection, with insectivores, primarily soricids, making up 14%. Other orders are less well-represented in the Mammal Collection.
Most of the specimens are traditional study skins with accompanying skulls and some complete skeletons; a smaller fluid-preserved collection is also maintained. Current efforts are to incorporate more complete skeletons into the collection as well as to initiate a tissue collection from future field-collecting efforts. A slide-mounted comparative hair collection is also an on-going project.