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Natural History

Discover animals, plants & geological specimens from across the state.

The natural history collection contains representatives of natural history objects from throughout the state -- including animals (fossil and recent), plants and geological specimens that are part of Ohio’s natural heritage. Our collection guidelines are fairly simply defined as “Ohio.” Some specimens come from areas outside the state, but relate to Ohio in one or more ways, such as through association with kinds of specimens that are found in Ohio, or through Ohio collectors. Occasionally the only way we can add a species that is very rare in Ohio is to accept a specimen of the same species from outside of Ohio.

The natural history collections are for the most part synoptic, offering a “Noah’s Arc” type of approach with one or two representative of each species. In a few cases our collections have greater depth and significant research value, as with insects in our Lepidoptera and Odonata collections and our Pleistocene mammalian fossils. Other portions of our collections, though synoptic, are still significant and contain some material collected more than 100 years ago, and/or by prominent early Ohio naturalists.

As of the close of 2011, our natural history collections hold 29,181 cataloged specimens, spread among fossils, rocks and minerals, plants, insects and other arthropods, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes. In addition, in excess of 215,000 specimens are on long-term loan to The Ohio State University's Museum of Biological Diversity.