collection of mosasaur bones

UNRAVELING
THE UNKNOWN

Department of Museum Research and Collections logo

Welcome to the Department of
Museum Research and Collections!

We oversee the management and curation of the Alabama Museum of Natural History collections and develop interdisciplinary research programs focusing on museum-based research. An increasing portion our collections can be found in the online database Arctos. Try our new Collections Search Portal.
Browse this site to learn more about who we are and what we do.

COLLECTIONS

The Buzz About Cicadas

That incessant buzzing sound you’ve been hearing for weeks now is not in your head. It’s mostly in the trees and bushes and all over your yard. It’s the (actually) harmless cicada. Dr. John Abbott, an entomologist and chief curator and director of The University of Alabama department of museum research and collections, said adult cicadas live four to six weeks and it’s the males we hear calling. This is Brood XIX coming out this year. There were some stragglers […]

Two decapod specimens with a swelling caused by a parasitic isopod in the gill chamber. Left: modern Munida valida (modern); right: Macroacaena rosenkrantzi (Late Cretaceous, Greenland). Source: modified from Wright et al. (2024)

How well do parasitic traces preserve in decapod crustaceans?

Parasites are very common today and are an important part of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. They also have been found in the fossil record, but their small size and soft body make their preservation a rarity. Some parasites leave a trace indicating their presence on or within the host, even if the parasite itself is not preserved.  One example are traces made by epicaridean isopod parasites in decapod crustacean hosts such as crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. These isopod parasites can […]

Tyler Posey, Sumlin Pate, and Ellie Stevens showing off the fossil vertebrae they discovered at Harrell Station Paleontological Site.

Students discover rare fossils during Blount Scholars course field trips

Paleontology speaks to the imagination of many people, including students at The University of Alabama. Over the last few years, the course Paleontology and Society has been offered in the spring semester via the selective Blount Scholars Program. This course for undergraduate students is taught by Dr. Adiel Klompmaker, UA Museums’ Curator of Paleontology. An important part of this course is focused learning outside the classroom. During several field trips students got a chance to experience fossil collecting and interpreting […]

Illustration of Glikmanius careforum (foreground) and two Troglocladodus trimblei (background). Credit: Benji Paynose and National Park Service.

New fossil shark records from Alabama

Paleozoic rock formations outcrop throughout northern Alabama and have been studied heavily due to their invertebrate diversity and abundance. Despite this heavy invertebrate literature base, vertebrates have been understudied. Recently, the Bangor Limestone of northern Alabama has had multiple new ~330 million-year-old shark species discovered within it. These investigations have led to further fieldwork and museum studies of previously collected shark teeth, including specimens discovered by University of Alabama Museums’ Research Associate of Paleontology Gabe Ward during his undergraduate degree […]

mosasaur bones