Vertebrate Biology

Our collections comprise more than 200,000 vertebrate specimens from around the world.

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.

E: a.kitchener@nms.ac.uk

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Bob McGowan
Senior Curator of Birds

Specific responsibility: Curation of bird collections, including skins, eggs and skeletons.

Research interests/expertise: His main interests lie in the history of collections, bird egg collections and the comprehensive archives of the Scottish naturalist J.A. Harvie-Brown (1844-1916).

E: b.mcgowan@nms.ac.uk

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Dr Jerry Herman
Senior Curator of Mammals

Specific responsibility: Curation of mammal collections, especially cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), small mammals (mice, voles, shrews).

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

E: j.herman@nms.ac.uk

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Zena Timmons
Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Biology

Specific responsibility: Curation of the vertebrate collections.

Research interests/expertise: Vertebrate biology and collections care.

E: z.timmons@nms.ac.uk

Dr Gill Murray-Dickson
Biobank Research Fellow

Specific responsibility: Development of the Edinburgh Biobank hub across BBSRC funded CRYOARKS and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) biobank initiatives.

Research interests/expertise: Conservation genetic and genomic analysis; Development of DNA-based laboratory protocols for informing population conservation management; DNA/tissue sample storage and archive.

E: g.murraydickson@nms.ac.uk

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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)

E: d.cooper@nms.ac.uk

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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.

E: g.hantke@nms.ac.uk

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.

E: s.rodger@nms.ac.uk

Alan Lothian
Laboratory Assistant

Specific responsibility: Assisting curators and taxidermists with exhibitions preparation and upkeep.

Expertise: Preparation of bird and mammal skeletal specimens.

E: a.lothian@nms.ac.uk

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