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Vertebrate Biology

The Vertebrate Biology collections comprise more than 200,000 specimens from around the world, including skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, wet specimens, tissue samples, fossils and archaeological remains.

Vertebrate Biology collections

We continue to develop our collections so that they remain relevant for research today and into the future.

However, historical collections allow researchers to look back into the past with new techniques to extract DNA or measure levels of stable isotopes to see how species have changed over time.

The collections are used by our staff and visiting researchers, for studies on anatomy, functional morphology, geographical variation, phylogeography, hybridisation, conservation biology and animal welfare.

You can find out more about our main collections below.

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Meet the team

Dr Andrew Kitchener
Principal Curator of Vertebrate Biology

Specific responsibility: Head of Birds, Mammals and Taxidermy. Curation and development of bird and mammal collections, especially carnivores (felids, mustelids), marine mammals and ungulates.

Research interests/expertise: Hybridisation between native and introduced mammal species, geographical variation and the effects of captivity on mammal and bird skeletal morphology, including ageing and pathology, faunal change and zooarchaeology of Scotland.


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Dr Jerry Herman
Senior Curator of Mammals

Specific responsibility: Curation of mammal collections, especially mice, voles, shrews.

Research interests/expertise: Molecular evolution, intraspecific variation, biogeography and archaeology of Eurasian mammals, especially rodents and cetaceans.


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Dr Martin Stervander
Senior Curator of Birds

Specific responsibility: Curation and development of the bird collections.

Research interests/expertise: Diversification (speciation, radiation) and homogenisation (hybridisation), convergent island evolution, genome evolution, phylogenetics/phylogenomics and phylogeography, and taxonomy in birds.


Zena Timmons
Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Biology

Specific responsibility: Curation of the vertebrate collections.

Research interests/expertise: Vertebrate biology and collections care.


Tiago Metello
Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Biology

Specific responsibility: Curation of the vertebrate collections, in particular assisting in the curation of collections used in the Do Not Feed The Animals project funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Research interests/expertise: Palaeozoology, vertebrate morphology of fossil South American ungulates and birds, and collections care.


Dr David Cooper
Postdoctoral Researcher

Specific responsibility: Postdoctoral Researcher on the Wellcome Trust Project: From ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Do Not Feed the Animals’.

Research interests/expertise: Vertebrate morphometric analysis, biogeography and Geographical Information Science (GIS)


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Georg Hantke
Curatorial Preparator

Specific responsibility: Preparation of animal specimens for study and basic curation of vertebrates.

Research interests: Taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of Central American lower vertebrates and insects.


Stephen Rodger
Curatorial Preparator

Specific responsibility: Preparation of non-passerine birds and small mammals.

Research interests/expertise: Bird and small mammal taxidermy as well as the preparation of skeletal material.


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