Curation comes in many forms. At Chicago’s Field Museum, basement contains 11 million embalmed specimens kept submerged in fluid in jars and tanks (including 883 frogs!). Here the work of collecting and preserving them is explained, along with a newly added step of collecting and storing each specimen’s DNA. While each animal has its own tag and ID number, I’m thinking there’s a lot of potential here for metadata and persistent identifiers to come into play.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


2 Thoughts on "A Library of 11 Million Fluid Specimens"

My father is an evolutionary biologist and comparative anatomist with a specialization in bats. In the 80s, before DNA became sophisticated enough to do this work, his research was to dissect different species of bats and classify them evolutionarily based on anatomical structure. His office was full of jars of preserved bat specimens (with which I grossed out my friends regularly when I was young), and we had many a trip up to the Field Museum to pick up “loaners”. I remember going “behind the scenes” and seeing the curiosities they had there. Great and probably somewhat unique childhood memories!

I wonder if they had the same problem as the Natural History Museum in my home town where it was realised that these millions of specimens preserved in an alcoholic mixture would be a devastative bomb in case of fire!

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