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Zoological collections

Department code: MZLU

The museum's zoological collection has its origins in Kilian Stobaeus' donation to the university in 1735. From the time we started as one of Sweden's first curiosity cabinets, we are today a well-attended and appreciated research collection.

An animal cranium. Photo.
A cranium from a babirusa.

During the second half of the 19th century, a personal courtesy in formal attire was required from the curator to borrow the key to the collection. Today, as a student or researcher, you can visit our collection to use our objects in your research and teaching.

As a private person, you are always welcome to donate new, as well as older zoological material to us. .

Our collections are searchable through the international organization GBIF's database and the information are available to those who want to know more about what is included in our collection.

Since the 18th century, the collections have grown continuously through private donations and researchers' collections of animals on land and in water, which means that today we have a rich collection of both domestic and foreign species from around the world and which we still proudly manage for the future.

Collections

Some shells with numbers in them. Photo.
Shells from common cockles.

Invertebrates are the name of all other animals that do not belong to the insects or vertebrates. The zoological collection has extensive collections of this group of animals, collected during expeditions or research projects since the first half of the 19th century and until today. If you like to know more about what our collections contain, please search for information in our database or contact the museum. Below are some examples of what you can find in the collection. 

Collections from the Skåne coast 

Since the middle of the 19th century, the zoological collection has had a regular increase in the collection of marine material from the coast of Skåne, including Öresund, in both Swedish and Danish waters. Our marine collections have been created by a variety of collectors over several decades. It is also one of the best documented in the museum and can therefore be considered of great importance for future environmental studies. The material also provides an interesting faunistic insight into marine wildlife over the past 150 years. The samples come from seabed surveys from several different premises and depths mainly collected from the western coastal side of Skåne. Among the older parts of the collection are also contains materials from Kristineberg outside Gothenburg.

From 1908 onwards, the university, as well as various companies, have carried out regular surveys within the so-called "Öresund surveys". During the early years of the collecting, these were carried out in specific places according to a geographical grid pattern that makes it possible to convert the collection points to the current coordinate system and compare these with what is collected today.

During the years 1970-1979, surveys were conducted with an environmental issue within what was called "Sydlänens Kustkontrollundersökningar" (SKU). Today, through this project, thousands of samples have been preserved from the survey, that has been collected from Hanö Bay in the southeast to Laholmsbukten in the southwest.

During the last 20 years, this material has been supplemented with collections from Norra Öresund and Skälderviken, Halland, Bohuslän. The latest material also contains newer material from the water around Hanö.

Anthozoa

We have a rich collection of Anthozoa (a class of marine invertebrates that includes the sea anemones, stony corals and soft corals) from both domestic waters and the rest of the world. This group includes Oskar Carlgren's well-known material from the beginning of the 20th century, when he, as one of two world authorities, received material sent to him for identification. The collection contains types material.

Parasitology and the North Calotte project

The museum's mite collection is Sweden's largest and contains several thousand microscope specimens with mites from small mammals collected in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Åland. Among them is, for example, collected material from the “Nordkalotten project” that was carried out in 1965-70. During the 1960s and 70s, other collection projects of mites were also carried out in the southern parts of Sweden. The majority of the mammals collected as hosts during the project are stored in our wet collections for further studies.

A mounted bird skeleton. Photo.
Skeleton of a mute swan.

The collection's first items of vertebrates were registered as Kilian Stobaeus' donation in the early 18th century. They were collected as curiosities and consisted only of some part of the animal, such as a tooth, a foot, or a beak. Over time, the content of our collections changed. Parts of our vertebrate collection has been created through exchanges with other departments at Lund University, other museums, donations from the public, and active fundraising.

The mammal collection

Our mammal collection today contains about 30,000 animals in the form of mounted animals, skeletons, and individuals in ethanol (so-called wet collections). A large part of this consists of smaller rodents from various collections in Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries. You will also find more exotic and extinct animals, such as the Tazmanian tiger from Australia.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the university's Department of Anatomy donated its collection of about 200 articulated mammal skeletons to the museum. An exciting collection of skeletons of animals from around the world. The bone section also contains a large material of bones available for anatomical studies, used regularly by various professional as material of comparison or as study material by students in their undergraduate education in biology. 

The bird collection

The museum's first major donation of birds was donated by Baron Axel Gustav Gyllenkrok at the Björnstorp's estate in Skåne in 1845 and consisted of, among other things, about 1,200 foreign-mounted birds and about 200 native species. Of these, the Brazilian species are especially appreciated by several researchers around the world.

In our bird section, you will also find a large variety of bird skins from Nordic species, but also species from all over the world. These are of great importance for taxonomic studies and DNA sampling. We also manage parts of the zoological adventurer Charles John Andersson's (1827–1867) collection of birds from southern Africa and around 400 bird skeletons. The latter contains our artisanally complex collection of articulated bird skeletons of Swedish bird species. 

The egg collection

Our collection of bird eggs contains specimens from the 18th century onwards. It is still expanded today through donations of older collections from private individuals. It mainly contains Nordic material, includes a collection of just over 800 litters of cuckoo eggs from the Copenhagen area. 

Gyllenstierna's fish collection

Baron Nils Christoffer Gyllenstierna's collection of fish from the Swedish south coast, donated to the museum 1854–55. This particular collection was by the time praised by the Zoological Museum's responsible curator Sven Nilsson with the words

"An excellent rich domestic fish collection".

Gyllenstierna was the fish expert in Sweden at the time, with a great interest in the species living the waters around Skälderviken, not far from his home on the Krapperup's estate. The donation consists of both mounted dry fish as well as species preserved in ethanol and provides an insight into the local fish fauna of the time.

A pair of antlers mounted on a plate. Photo
A pair of deer antlers.

Subfossils are the name for organic material from for example animal bones or shells from snails and mussels which have only been partially fossilized. This happens when the material has not been in the earth long enough to completely change to a fossil state or that the environment has not been favourable enough for the fossil process to be completed. This type of material is most often found in bogs or older lake sediments. 

Our collection of subfossil bones comes from Scanian sites and were mainly found in lake sediments. To ensure the age of the bones, C14 dating is used. 

The majority of our subfossil bones were collected during the early 19th century when the zoological collection grew rapidly under the leadership of Professor Sven Nilsson. Additional material came to the collection in Lund at the beginning of the 20th century, after several Lund professors came together and formed the "Torvmossekommissionen", with a call to the public to submit their findings to the university. The collection at large is well documented with fascinating find information in the museum's records. 

Today, our collection of subfossil bones is widely used as a material of identification and for sampling aDNA (ancient DNA) from, among others, aurochs, bison, European marsh turtle, and reindeer. In the wake of the rapid technical development, the collection is also used for, for example, isotope studies.  

How are our collections used today

Collecting

Today, our staff no longer collect actively and the days of the big expeditions are long gone. We are therefore constantly looking for new collaborations that can benefit the collection's research value and richness of the collection. This is done, among other things, through collaborations with researchers, environmental companies, the police, and donations from the public.

We care that the material registered into our collections has been collected following ethical values and by current legislation, both within and outside Sweden's borders.

We hold CITES permits and comply with the Nagoya Protocol's rules for the collection of biological material. 

Research

Comparsion between cranium from aurochs and cattle. On Sketchfab website you will find more specimen we have scanned with the help of the 3D lab at the department.

Our collections are used by researchers from all over the world. Research conducted on our material contributes to the increased knowledge about the earth's species, biological diversity, ecosystems, environmental changes, archaeological discoveries, and much, much more.

We conduct interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in history, archaeology, and osteology where studies on connections, DNA, aDNA, and isotopes contribute to in-depth knowledge of our social history, species' origin, and change over time and distribution, to name a few.

The rapid development of technology makes it possible to increasingly examine our individuals in the collections with less destructive methods than before, which benefits the preservation of the collection for future generations.

Citations

Number of citations including our zoological collections on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility's (GBIF) website (new tab).