Taxidermied Mammals collection

Taxidermied Mammals collection

Curator: Igor Fadeev. The collection includes 2 543 specimens. It represents outstanding examples of taxidermy art, including the largest collection of taxidermied animals made in the best in Moscow taxidermic laboratory of Friedrich Lorenz. The outstanding work of the Museum’s taxidermist Philipp Fedulov - taxidermied African and Indian elephants – are the centerpiece of “The diversity of life on Earth” hall at Darwin museum.   Of great scientific interest are the extensive collections of geographic and individual variability in foxes and wolves. The collection also contains a significant number of taxidermied foxes with all kinds of fur color variations made from skins of animals bred in fur farms. This material had been purposefully selected by Alexander Kohts since the very beginning of Darwin museum, as he wanted to demonstrate the wide range of colors in animals at the permanent exhibition. To be noted are the taxidermied representatives of the Mustelidae family (sable, marten, ferrets, etc.) and squirrels with fur color variations. Moreover, the collection contains a wide range of taxidermied animals of various species of wild cats (leopards, tigers, cheetahs, lynxes, manuls) and bears, as well as some unique specimens of black and white lynx. An extensive collection of taxidermied primates comprises five gorillas, twelve chimpanzees, twelve orangutans, a large number of taxidermied Old World monkeys and lemurs, among which of certain interest are four taxidermied aye-ayes. These materials were purchased by Alexander Kohts from various European companies.   Of great scientific and historical value is the taxidermied Tibetan bear (on display at permanent exhibition hall) and the Tibetan antelope made from the skins of animals collected in Tibet by Nikolay Przhevalsky, a Russian geographer and a renowned explorer of Central and East Asia. To be noted is the white taxidermied squirrel, collected in 1906 in the Ussuri krai, Russia.   A significant part of the taxidermied mammals of the domestic fauna is made of skins received from the Moscow fur factory. Furthermore, the collection includes some interesting examples of Western European taxidermy art,  and specimens that used to belong to renowned foreign collectors and scientists.   Since the foundation of Darwin museum, a collection of taxidermied domestic animals has also been gathered. Today a large selection of different dog breeds demonstrates the wide possibilities of breeding and preserves samples of old breeding standards. The great number and diversity of the specimens allow creating permanent and temporary exhibitions on almost any topic related to natural history. The collection is still being regularly replenished. A showcase with the geographical variability in tigers (Panthera tigris L.) and leopards (Panthera pardus L.), permanent exhibition of Darwin museum. Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta L.). A female with an offspring.Russian desman (Desmana moshata L.), a specimen with the normal color on the left, an albino specimen on the right.

Stuffed Mammal Skins collection

Stuffed Mammal Skins collection

Curator: Igor Fadeev. The collection maintains 2 654 specimens, including the skins of small and medium-sized mammals stuffed with cotton or other soft material (from the smallest species to the groundhog and raccoon).   The first stuffed skins of mammals were bought by Alexander Kohts, along with many other exhibits from a number of well-known European companies in 1913. Most of these skins were later used to make taxidermied animals between 1914 and 1953. Among the specimens that remained in the original form, there are three notable skins of Australian short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) purchased from the London trading company of Rosenberg, as well as individual specimens collected by well-known professional collectors of that time - A. Everett, S. Underwood, M. Palmer.   In 1920, the Museum bought a private zoological collection of V.N. Nikitin gathered in 1912 during a trip to German East Africa, including two stuffed skins  of the Gambian pouched rat (Cricetomus gambianus). Between 1930 to 1950, the Museum collection was replenished by over 500 specimens collected in the Caucasus, Saratov Region, Siberia), Central Russia, Central Asia.   The main and the most valuable part of the stuffed skins collection is the private collection of the famous mammalogist and zoologist, Professor Alexander Kuzyakin. It contains all species of Chiroptera, Eulipotyphla, and Rodentia of the former USSR territory, as well as some specimens of the faunas of China and the United States. Material from the United States, among which are quite old specimens dating back to 1891 - 1923, was obtained through scientific exchange with the American colleagues - mammalogists. Specimens from this collection are distinguished by the excellent quality of specimen preparation and scientific labels, as well as the accuracy of definition. The collection comprises the material of such rare species as the desert long-eared bat, the European free-tailed bat, the Hilgendorf's tube-nosed bat, piebald shrew, the large-eared vole and the Gobi Altai mountain vole, the Schelkovnikov's pine vole, the Transcaspian vole, the Daghestan pine vole, the snow vole, the Roborovski hamster, and the desert dormouse. The fauna of the Caucasus, the Far East, and the Moscow Region has the best representation in the collection. Very valuable material is from China (125 copies), as it is poorly represented in collections around the world.   A significant number of specimens of the collection were used by animal artists N.N. Kondakov and O.F. Khludova to illustrate “The Catalogue of Mammals of the USSR” (N. A. Bobrinsky, B. A. Kuznetsov, A. P. Kuzyakin, 1965). The collection has great scientific value and is often used for reference by mammalogists from various scientific institutions of Russia.   Today, the collection is replenished by occasional collections by museum employees in Russia. The stuffed skins of bats – the desert long-eared bat (Otonycteris hemprichi Peters) on the left and the European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis Rafinesque) on the right. The stuffed skins of the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus Pallas) and Roborovski hamster (Phodopus roborovskii Satunin).  A collection box with stuffed skins of Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus Pallas) and Roborovski hamsters (Phodopus roborovskii Satunin). 

Mammals Skins Collection

Mammals Skins Collection

Curator: Igor Fadeev. The collection comprises 1 230 specimens. Of the greatest interest are the skins of foxes with geographical variations, as well as a large selection of skins of foxes, arctic foxes, sables, minks, martens held in cages and bred in fur farms. Worth to be noted is a good series of skins of large predatory mammals: wolves, tigers, leopards, lynxes, brown bears from various regions of Russia and adjacent territories. There is also a wide range of specimens with variability in color of the fur - moles, squirrels, and chipmunks.   A significant part of the collection was formed with the assistance of the Union Soyuzpushnina, cooperation with which lasted more than fifty years. Unfortunately, most of this material doesn’t have appropriate scientific description, since the skins came as raw materials from hunters and fishermen from all around the Soviet Union. The skins of exotic animals came mainly from the Moscow Zoo.   In recent years, the collection of skins has been replenished by the specimens confiscated from poachers - four skins of tigers, three skins of zebras, and one skin of a snow leopard. Skins of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.). Normal color on the left, in the center and on the right color variations obtained by breeding on fur farms.Skins of the European mink (Mustela lutreola L.). Color variations obtained by breeding on fur farms.

Taxidermied Birds Collection

Taxidermied Birds Collection

Curator: Yevgeny Nesterov.The collection contains 6 465 specimens. Along with collections of taxidermied animals and skins of mammals, this is one of the basic collections of Darwin Museum. The following families are most widely represented in the collection: the subfamily Tetraoninae - 650 specimens, Hummingbirds (family Trochilidae) - 530 specimens, the Phasianidae family - 380 specimens, the Anatidae family - 382 specimens, Sandpipers (Scolopacidae) - 332 specimens, the Accipitridae family - 218 specimens. The collection holds a significant number of taxidermied animals from private collections of famous zoologists P. Sushkin, M. Menzbir, N. Bobrinsky, G. Dementiev. Some magnificent taxidermied animals of undoubted scientific and historical interest were made of skins brought from Tibetan expeditions of Nikolay Przhevalsky. They are the Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus), the eared pheasant, the Tibetan sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus ), the Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus), the white-capped water redstart (Phoenicurus leucocephalus). There is also a taxidermied white-capped water redstart made from the skin brought by the famous French Lazarist missionary Catholic priest as well as a zoologist and a botanist, Chinese explorer Armand David. The most important scientific division is the collection of grouse birds with color variations (the black grouse, the western capercaillie, the hazel grouse, the true partridges) - more than 600 specimens. The collection has been formed by Alexander Kohts since the beginning of the twentieth century. Later, it was replenished by specimens from private collections. No less significant is the natural hybrids of grouse selection, including 42 specimens of the black grouse and western capercaillie hybrids, 2 specimens of the western capercaillie and black-billed capercaillie hybrids, 2 specimens of black grouse and hazel grouse hybrids, 14 specimens of the black grouse and willow ptarmigan hybrids. An interesting collection of various types of taxidermied Palaearctic falcons (112 specimens) - gyrfalcons, saker falcons, peregrine falcons, and Eurasian hobbies. Of considerable interest are also taxidermied tropical birds, especially the Hummingbirds, Birds-of-paradise (112 specimens), Tangara, Cotingas, Sunbirds, Common kingfishers. Of particular value is the taxidermy mounts of extinct species of birds, such as the great auk, the huia, the passenger pigeon and the extinct flightless dodo (Raphus cucullatus) from the island of Mauritius. The collection includes a number of taxidermy mounts made of bird skins, obtained by famous foreign ornithologists - Alfred Hart Everett on the Philippine Islands and the island of Borneo (Kalimantan), Albert Stewart Meek (also known as an entomologist) on the island of New Guinea, William Frederick Henry Rosenberg in Colombia.  To be noted is the collection of breeds of poultry - 520 specimens, about 400 of which are various breeds of domestic hens, including ones that are rare and currently extinct. In the second half of the twentieth century, some breeds of chickens lost their value/popularity for various reasons and therefore seized to exist. The taxidermied hens of these breeds that are part of Darwin museum collection serve as examples of their exterior. Based on these materials in the 80s and 90s, amateur poultry breeders made successful attempts to restore some of the extinct breeds, including the Orloff and the Pavlovsky chicken. Abnormal coloration of the plumage of male black grouse (Lirurus tetrix L.). Taxidermied extinct passenger pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius L.). Albino birds. Tropical birds.Vulturine parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus Lesson, 1831) on the left, and an owl parrot aka kakapo (Strigops habroptilus Gray) on the right.

Bird skin collection

Bird skin collection

Curator: Igor Fadeev. The collection contains 7 118 specimens. It is still being regularly replenished today, but the majority of specimens date from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. A significant number of valuable specimens were collected by well-known foreign ornithologists at the end of the 19th – the beginning of 20th century in various regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, including the islands of the Malay archipelago, Central and South America. The specimens of this collection were originally intended as materials for future taxidermied animals and for exchange. Nowadays, bird skins have independent significance as valuable scientific and memorial objects.   The collection represents groups of exotic birds, such as Tanagers, Cacique, Hummingbirds, Birds-of-paradise, which are quite rare in the collections of Russian natural science museums. In the 80s, the collection was added with specimens collected by the famous zoologist, Professor Alexander Kuzyakin on the territory of the former USSR, as well as in China while he was teaching at Chinese universities in 1957-1958.   Today, the collection is actively replenished by Darwin museum employees, who annually collect valuable scientific material on the territory of Russia. Moreover, there is an active scientific exchange with American colleagues from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (University of Washington, Seattle) and The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota), as well as the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). As a result of such collaboration, 335 specimens of birds of the North American fauna were added to the collection. In the last decade, along with collecting material for the Museum’s collection, the museum employees have been taking tissue samples for genetic analysis, which significantly increases the scientific value of the specimens.   A collection box with skins of birds-of-paradise (family Paradisaeidae) A part of the black grouse (Lirurus tetrix L.) skins collection. A collection box with skins of various species of tanagers (family Thraupidae).A collection box with skins of yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella L.).

Bird egg and nest collections

Bird egg and nest collections

Curator: Igor Fadeev   7 119 nests, clutches, and individual eggs. First clutches of eggs were bought by Alexander Kohts in 1913 from European trading companies, including nests and clutches with cuckoo eggs, illustrating the phenomenon of nest parasitism and the evolution of nest-building skills. The oldest specimens date back to the 1870s. In the 1920s, a private collection of bird eggs was donated to the museum. Unfortunately, it was poorly labeled. Nevertheless, it represents almost the entire European Avian fauna. Later, a collection of bird nests collected by Sc.D. Maria Sadovnikova-Koltsova, including a series of nests of African weavers at different stages of weaving, completed the museum’s collection.   The collection holds samples from:AustraliaArgentinaBrazilVenezuelaColombiaCosta RicaPeruIndiaWestern EuropeYet the majority of specimens come from Russia and the former Soviet republics.Of particular value is the egg of the extinct Madagascar ostrich-like Elephant bird, a member of the extinct ratite family Aepyornithidae. It was made up of fragments of a genuine shell, donated to the museum in 1999 by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. No less interesting is a series of eggs of various breeds of poultry, primarily chicken and goose.   Today the collection is regularly replenished by specimens from private collections as well as those collected by the Museum’s employees. The nest of a long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus L.). Nests and clutches. The upper left is of the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus L.), the upper right is of the European robin (Erithacus rubecula L.), the lower left is of the common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus L.), and the lower right is of the northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe L.).

Herpetology collection

Herpetology collection

Curator: Dmitry Myloserdov 292 taxidermied amphibians and reptilesas well as some osteological material. The most notable specimens are taxidermy mounts of such rare species as the gharial, tuatara, Galápagos giant tortoise, the aldabra giant tortoise, and the giant salamander (Andrias) bought by Alexander Kohts in 1913 from various foreign companies (Schlüter, Umlauf, Rosenberg), as well as skulls of very large specimens of the Nile crocodile and the family Gavialidae. Of interest is a decent selection of different types of Palearctic and North American snakes.In recent years, the collection has been replenished with specimens (mainly snakes and lizards) collected by the museum staff during expeditions to Soviet Central Asia and Primorye (the Far East of Russia, Khabarovsk Krai, and Primorsky Krai).   Toads. The European green toad (Bufo viridis Laur.) on the left and the common toad (B. bufo L.) on the right.

Fish collection

Fish collection

Curator: Yury Mylosyerdov. 294 taxidermied freshwater and marine fish, as well as bones mainly of Chondrichthyes. The collection was formed rather spontaneously and consists of occasional donations from various sources. Recently the museum has been receiving material from the Moscow Zoo aquarium and the Terrarium Center. Most of the specimens from this collection were used in the Museum’s permanent exhibition, such as the Coral Reef diorama.   Of undoubted interest is a series of 26 rostrums of various types of Sawfishes, also known as carpenter sharks (Common, Green, Smalltooth sawfish and others) of various sizes, clearly illustrating intraspecific and age-related variability, as well as the jaws of various species of sharks (tiger, oceanic whitetip, grey nurse shark) and rays. These materials were purchased long ago from the company Umlyauf (Hamburg, Germany). In addition, the collection contains a good selection of taxidermied boxfishes and pufferfish. Shark jaws. Sand tiger shark (Carcharius taurus Raf.) on the left. Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharinus longimanus Poey) on the right.A fragment of the Coral Reef showcase of the Museum’s permanent exhibition.

Osteology collection

Osteology collection

Curator: Dmitry Miloserdov The collection holds 2 137 specimens - skeletons and skulls of mammals, as well as representatives of other classes of vertebrates. Skulls are the most numerous, representing various mammals of almost all orders. The collection also contains full skeletons and their fragments, and individual bones. Some of the remarkable specimens are the skulls and skeletons of exotic mammals, skulls of representatives of the pig family, such as Buru babirusa and common warthog, along with skeletons and skulls of primates, including apes, and full skeletons of narwhal and manatee. The skulls of the hippo, Indian elephant, dugong, African black rhinoceros and Indian rhinoceros are worth mentioning.   Of particular interest is the collection of the horns of Ungulates (499 specimens, including over 50 specimens with abnormalities). There are some valuable specimens, such as the horns of African even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla), as well as horn materials of European and American bisons. Of historical interest is a series of horns - trophies of the Russian imperial hunts – European bison, moose, red deer, roe deer, caught in the early twentieth century in Białowieża Forest by the emperor Nicholas II of Russia and members of the royal court. In 1997, Osteology collection was replenished with an extensive selection of tusks of African elephants confiscated by the Sheremetyevo airport customs and transferred for permanent storage to the Darwin Museum.   Some of the outstanding specimens are the full skeletons of hummingbirds, flamingos and some species of the Casuariiformes order, as well as the skeleton of the dodo from the island of Mauritius. Skulls of bears. The skull of the polar bear on the left (Ursus maritimus hipps), of the brown bear on the right (Ursus arctos L.).The European Bison horns (Bison bonasus L.). The trophy of the Russian imperial hunt. Obtained by Emperor Nicholas II in Białowieża Forest on September 2, 1897 (according to the Julian Calendar).

Spirit collection

Spirit collection

2 148 fluid-preserved specimens. It was traditionally used as a raw material to replenish collections of taxidermied animals and other exhibits. The collection represents all classes of vertebrates and several systematic groups of mollusks, sponges, crustaceans, worms, and insects. It was formed according to the main idea of the museum – to highlight the main problems of evolution. A significant number of the specimens were purchased by Alexander Kohts from foreign trading companies, such as Schluter (Germany), Fritsch (Austria-Hungary), Scheer (Russia). In 1918, Professor Yury Belogolovy passed to Kohts a collection of African Polypterus and some other fish, which he collected during the expedition to the Congo and the Niger River basin, organized by the Moscow Society of Naturalists in 1914. Some species were donated by Sc.D. Maria Sadovnikova-Koltsova.   Among the vertebrate specimens the most numerous are the amphibians, reptiles, and fish. The specimens allow us to demonstrate the diversity of life forms in the kingdom Animalia, including those interesting in terms of their external morphology, such as:salamanders and frogs (the olm, some species of newts, the salamander, the Mole salamander, the common midwife toad, the common Suriname toad, tree frogs)reptiles (the thorny devil, some species of chameleons, various species of snakes)a variety of fish (Elasmobranchii, Lungfish, Polypteriformes).   The collection contains almost all systematic groups of invertebrates, including:SiboglinidaeComb jellies (Ctenophora)CnidariaSpongesEchinodermTunicateMolluscavarious worms (including parasitic ones)most arachnid and insect orders. A number of the collection specimens allow to demonstrate the basic patterns of individual development in insects (Hymenopterans, Diptera or flies). There are also examples of rare species of tropical Myriapoda and Arachnida. Worth to be noted is a decent collection of various species of African fish collected in Ethiopia between 1986 and 1995, as well as botanical specimens, various species of sponges, echinoderms, corals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles collected in Brazil, Australia, the islands of New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji, New Hebrides, Lord Howe Island, as well as the atolls Funafuti and Marakei between 1971 and 1983. Valuable material on crustaceans (various types of crabs) in recent years was brought from expeditions to Thailand and Malaysia (the Andaman Sea) by Darwin museum employee Alexander Alyakrinsky.   Of great scientific interest is the collection of bird embryos, comprising 218 specimens, donated to the Museum. This collection of 22 species of different families demonstrates species-specific features of embryogenesis. The collection of spirit brains of mammals deserves special attention. It contains specimens of:MarsupialsPilosaEulipotyphlaRodentsLagomorphsCarnivoresPinnipedsCetaceansProboscideaTylopodaeven-toed ungulates and odd-toed ungulates.This collection, obtained from the Moscow Zoo, comprises 173 specimens. Of particular interest are the fluid-preserved newborns and young mammals of almost all the main orders starting from marsupials and insectivores to pinnipeds and primates. Some samples demonstrate examples of common individual development disorders, such as abnormally developed calves.   Today, the collection is completed by occasional collections by museum employees, as well as through donations of raw materials from the Terrarium Center and the Moscow Zoo. Chameleon (Chamaelio sp.) on the left and the thorny devil (Molochus harrydius Gray) on the right. The thornback ray (Raja clavata) and the catshark (Sciliorhinus beshardi). 

Crustacean collection

Crustacean collection

Curator: Alexander Alyakrinsky. 955 specimens. The core of the collection is about 400 crabs collected during the expedition of the Institute of Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences to the islands of the Pacific Ocean in 1971. Later, the collection was replenished by Alexander Alyakrinsky, who brought more than 100 crabs from Malaysia, Thailand, the Sunda Islands, the Maluku Islands (Indonesia), and the Philippine Islands, as well as occasional gatherings of other museum employees.   The jewel of the collection is the giant Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempheri), acquired by the founder of the museum Alexander Kohts in 1919. The giant crab belongs to the family of so-called spider crabs (Majidae), one of the largest families of true crabs. This family also includes species of much smaller sizes, many of which are part of the museum's collection. Some of them are known for their ability to disguise. For example, they may attach various algae to the upper surface of their carapace, which makes them almost invisible on the seabed.   Crabs of the Dorippidae family, also widely represented in the Darwin Museum collection, use other means of disguise. They hold above empty shells of bivalve mollusks themselves with the help of two pairs of legs specially adapted for these purposes. While swimming crabs of the Portunidae family act differently when facing danger. They use their sharp claws, so very few predators would dare to attack them. Judging by their name, swimming crabs are also notable for their ability to swim. The museum’s collection contains more than 50 specimens of these crustaceans.   Fiddler crabs (genus Uca) also have large claws, but only one and only the males. They are most well known for their sexually dimorphic claws - the males’ major claw is much larger than the minor claw while the females’ claws are both the same size. The smaller claw is used to grab food - silt. The role of a large claw is to signal that the territory is occupied or to lure a female. Each species of fiddler crabs has its own "gesture language." The museum collection holds more than 40 specimens of fiddler crabs.   12 species of endemic amphipods of Lake Baikal are also of great scientific value.Fiddler crab (Uca vocans L.). Female on the left, male on the right.

Mollusc collection

Mollusc collection

Curator: Alexander Alyakrinsky. 20 325 specimens. It was started by Alexander Kohts in the early 20th century. Among the earliest arrivals is a collection of marine tropical molluscs of E.K. Popov and a collection of terrestrial gastropods from the Hawaiian Islands. In the 1970s, the museum collection was replenished by more than 1000 specimens of tropical molluscs collected during the Pacific expeditions of the Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1971 and 1977) to the littoral zones of New Guinea, Fiji, Western Samoa, New Caledonia, Nauru, Tuvalu, Lord Howe Island, New Hebrides Archipelago. Between 1981 and 1986 Moscow collector K.N. Gaidenko donated to the museum 7 479 shells of marine gastropods and bivalves. In 1992, the museum acquired a valuable collection of land molluscs from Russia and neighboring countries, collected by A.G. Kuznetsov (about 1 100 specimens). In recent years, the collection has been intensively replenished with the help of a Museum employee Alexander Alyakrinsky (about 4 000 specimens of marine, freshwater and land molluscs from Central Asia, Siberia, the Far East, and various regions of Southeast Asia). 502 specimens of 136 species of cone snails (Conidae). Their illustrated description was published as a catalog in 2005.   490 specimens of Murex - carnivorous marine gastropod molluscs in the family Muricidae - as well as cones, are predators. They mainly prey on bivalve mollusks. To eat such a mollusk, murexes drill a small hole in the victim’s shell, or crush the latter by squeezing it between the horny lid and the opening of its shell. Many murexes have a very beautiful shell. In some species, it is decorated with bizarre outgrowths and spikes.   506 specimens of Cypraea, or cowries, are also very beautiful. The surface of their shells is very smooth, as if polished. For centuries, the shells of some types of Cypraea have been used as a means of payment not only in the tropical countries which they inhabit but also far beyond their borders. Some of the specimens are exhibited in a showcase of the Zoogeography hall.   1 400 specimens of Achatenillidae - a family of terrestrial molluscs. All of them live on the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean, mainly in Hawaii. Their shells are of very bright color and exhibit strong individual variability.   The major part of Darwin Museum molluscs collection is well labeled, preserved and is of scientific value to malacologists. Scallop shells (Chlamys rubida Hinds) in the upper left corner, Pecten irradians Lam. in the upper right corner, Lyropecten nodosa L. at the bottom. Cones. From left to right: Conus tessulatus Born., Conus bengalensis Ocut., Conus amadis Gmelin, Conus vitulinus Hwass. 

Marine Invertebrate Collection

Marine Invertebrate Collection

Curator: Alexander Alyakrinsky.1 083 specimens - mainly corals, echinoderms and sponges collected during expeditions to the Pacific of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1971 and in 1977.   Most corals belong to the Madreporaria order, which forms the basis of the tropical coral reef ecosystem, providing shelter and food for many marine animals. These corals are the main "culprits" for specific coral islands – atolls- to appear. The origin of the latter at one time was brilliantly explained by Charles Darwin. Unfortunately, it is technically very difficult to maintain the complete colony of Anthozoa. Therefore, museums mainly store their calcareous skeletons. The most remarkable of them are representatives of the Acroporidae family, having bizarre branchy shapes. Of special interest are brain-like corals of the family Faviidae. The skeletons of all these corals are white. However, in the museum’s collection there is a coral with a blue skeleton - Heliopora coerulea- the only representative of the helioporidae family (Helioporidae). In total, the museum collection holds 470 coral specimens.   Echinoderms are represented by starfish, sea urchins, brittle stars or ophiuroids, and sea cucumbers. The majority of the echinoderm collection is starfish with a total of 360 specimens. Among them, a long series of large sea stars Protoreaster nodosus (72 specimens) collected on the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean. This star, which has numerous massive spikes, has a pronounced individual variability. Of ecological interest is the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) with venomous thorn-like spines, which preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps and damages huge sections of coral reefs.   Brittle stars or serpent stars - a group of invertebrates that got its name due to long, filiform, sometimes branchy rays. Unlike predatory sea stars, brittle stars feed on plankton or detritus.   Sea urchins are of great variety. The collection contains the so-called “drilling” sea urchins which make burrows for themselves in coral reefs, as well as the common sand dollar - Echinarachnius parma – a round plate with very short, barely noticeable needles, and the slate pencil urchin - Heterocentrotus mammilatus - with massive, thick, faceted needles, etc.   A selection of sponges (113 specimens) is represented by both marine and freshwater species. Among the sea sponges, of certain interest are representatives of Ianthellidae family, a wide range of which was collected on the Admiralty Islands in the Pacific Ocean, as well as the very large glass sponge Rossrlla sp. Among freshwater sponges, the most notable is Lubomirskia baikalensis - a freshwater species of sponge endemic to Lake Baikal, Russia. These sponges are branched and reach a height of more than one meter. Individual variability of the starfish Protoreaster nodosus Lam.Alcyonacea, or soft corals (Gorgonaria sp.).

Lepidoptera collection

Lepidoptera collection

Curator: Pavel Bogdanov. 52 568 specimens. It is based on tropical butterflies donated to the museum by a private collector A.S. Khomyakov, as well as purchased by Alexander Kohts from the company of Rosenberg (England) and from the company of A. Blanca, Moscow (in total about 1 000 specimens). The most notable ones are of the genera Ornithoptera, Trogonoptera, and Troides (a family of Swallowtail butterflies), as well as about 60 specimens of the genus Delias (the Pieridae family), collected in the late 19th - early 20th centuries on the New Guinea island, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands by Albert Meek. A number of these butterflies are part of the museum’s permanent exhibition and are displayed on the 3d floor in the Zoogeography hall. Another remarkable although not as numerous part of Lepidoptera collection is butterflies (about 50 specimens) collected by Eugène Le Moult in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, a town in French Guiana at the beginning of the 20th century.   In the 1970s and the 1990s the Museum collection was replenished by private collections of prominent Russian scientists and professors. About 21 000 specimens - a collection of butterflies from the territory of the former USSR. For example, the selection of the Tien Shan blue (Agriades pheretiades) is represented by more than 250 specimens and covers all known at that time subspecies living in the mountain systems of the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai. More than 14 000 specimens of butterflies and moths from not only the territory of the former USSR, but from South America and Southeast Asia, including the Sunda and Maluku Islands, as well as the New Guinea. Swallowtail butterflies. Since the mid-80s, the museum purchased extensive scientific material from private collectors - 2 530 specimens:140 specimens of the genus Ornithoptera and Troides1 000 specimens of various species of the genus Parnassiusa number of the Himalayan-Tibetan fauna speciesabout 70 specimens of 40 species of swallowtail butterflies new to the museum's collection.   In recent years, the collection has been replenished mainly by the efforts of the museum’s chief curator Pavel Bogdanov (about 8,000 specimens from various regions of Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Polar Urals and the southern part of Transbaikal), as well as through occasional collections by museum employees, purchases and taxidermy mounts made of old materials received from some Moscow collectors.   The collection materials were used to define a number of new species and subspecies of butterflies on the territory of Russia and neighboring countries (former republics of Central Asia, China, Mongolia). Currently, the collection contains 627 type specimens (holotypes, paratypes, neotypes) of various species and subspecies of butterflies described in the period between 1993 and 2006, which makes the collection scientifically valuable. Both domestic and foreign lepidopterologists regularly use the materials for their research. Color photos of about two hundred specimens are used in systematic tables of “Guide to the Butterflies of Russia and adjacent territories” by V.K. Tuzov, P.V. Bogdanov, vol. 1 (1997) and vol. 2 (2000).   The drawer with the Adonis blue (Lysandra bellargus Rott.).The drawer with the banded Apollo (Parnassius delphius Ev.).

Coleoptera collection

Coleoptera collection

Curator: Pavel Bogdanov. 64 373 specimens (including over 63 thousand beetles). The core of this collection is the specimens from the private collection of A.S. Khomyakov and materials purchased from the company of A. Blanca (Moscow). These are mainly tropical beetles, orthoptera, cicadidae, hymenoptera, and odonata mostly from various regions of Central and South America, Western and Southeast Asia, as well as the islands of the Malay archipelago. Worth to be noted is a collection of beetles gathered and mounted in double-sided boxes made in the shape of books at the end of the 19th century. This collection comprises about 30 000 specimens the majority of which is attributed to the families of Scarabaeidae, Lucanidae, Buprestidae, and Cerambycidae covering pretty much the whole of the world fauna. Unfortunately, the collection at one time was seriously affected by pests. At the moment, the museum staff is carrying out its systematic restoration. A great variety of Palaearctic species of the Carabidae (the genus Carabus, Callisthenes and Calosoma) and Scarabaeidae families. 26 type specimens (paratypes) of various subspecies of Ground beetles (the genus Carabus) described by D.V. Obydov in the 90s, which increases its scientific value.   In the 1970s, the collection of beetles was replenished with interesting specimens collected in the northern aimags (provinces) of Mongolia by the former chief curator of Darwin museum V.V. Kozhemyakin. In the 1980s, significant scientific material was purchased from Moscow entomologist M.L. Danilevsky. It included mainly specimens of the families Carabidae, Cerambycidae, and Tenebrionidae.  Over the past 20 years, the collection has expanded significantly due to regular collections by the museum staff - D.V. Obydova and O.A. Gvozdeva - on the territory of Russia and the republics of Central Asia, as well as through occasional contributions of other employees. Tropical jewel beetles (Buprestidae family).Tropical cicadas (Tosena sp.).

Insect nest collection

Insect nest collection

Curator: Tymophey Levchenko. 203 specimens. The core is a selection of nests of various insects purchased by Alexander Kohts in Germany from the company of W. Schluter, as well as nests of Hymenopterans collected individually in the 1930s by entomologist A. Gutbir, commissioned by Alexander Kohts.A significant part of the collection consists of nests of different species of Hymenoptera and termites, collected by Sc.D. Maria Sadovnikova-Koltsova. The specimens were selected mainly to be displayed in the future permanent exhibition of the museum. The nest of a red wood ant (Formica rufa L.), insection.The nest of a common wasp (Vespula vulgaris L.).

Paleontology collection

Paleontology collection

Curator: Yaroslav Popov.   19 216 specimens. The collection is being formed since the 1970s and comprises mainly the materials collected by famous researchers and collectors. The first specimens were purchased by Alexander Kohts abroad in the early 20th century, such as the so-called “lithographic limestone” with imprints of aquatic arthropods from Solnhofen - the world-famous location of the Late Jurassic fauna in the German state of Bavaria. These samples are also the oldest among Darwin museum's specimens according to the time they were collected, dating back to 1876.The collection contains extensive material from the Paleozoic deposits of the Moscow Region (stratotypes of some stages), the Leningrad Region, the central regions of European Russia, the Devonian of the Voronezh Region, the Mesozoic Era of the Moscow Region, the Volga Region, the Mangyshlak Peninsula, and the Crimean Peninsula, the Paleogene of Ukraine and Crimea, the Lower Paleozoic of the Baltic and Siberia, the Paleozoic Era and the Triassic of Siberia. The collection contains all the major groups of the organic world, including:The remains of Cyanobacteria, lycophytes, Equisetidae, the Auchenorrhyncha, Ginkgoales, Cordaitales, Coniferophyta, Angiospermae. The specimens of plants with preserved cell structure are extremely interesting.Foraminifera - Fusulinida and nummulite, sponges, the annelids, Echinoidea are widely represented.Archaeocyatha, Hydrozoa, jellyfish, Entomostraca, crabs, insects (including inclusions in amber), starfish, Graptolithina.A great variety of corals, trilobites, Crinoids, among which the most interesting are the specimens from the coal deposits of the Moscow Region, gastropods and bivalves (Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and mainly Cenozoic), cephalopods, including rather rare Paleozoic nautilides.Vertebrates are represented by a few, usually fragmented, bone remains of fish, reptiles, and mammals. The most notable are the remains of fish from the sites in Germany, the USA, and Russia, amphibians from Moravia (Czech Republic), reptiles from the Moscow region and Mongolia.A small osteological collection of the mammoth fauna (bones of a woolly rhinoceros, horse, steppe bison, mammoth) formed thanks to the materials of K.K. Flerov, E.N. Mashchenko, V.V. Mitta.Of particular value is the collection of aberrant whole and fragmentary tusks of a woolly mammoth, showing rare forms of growth abnormalities.Some of the paleobotanical materials are of the most interest like the remains of little-known lycophytes, ferns, and Coniferophyta from the bordering deposits of the Permian and Triassic systems of the north of Siberia. Sometimes the specimens have been preserved so well that it is possible to study the cellular structure of the plant remains. Currently, the collection is actively replenished by the efforts of the museum staff G.N. Sadovnikova, Y.A. Popova, and E.V. Mychko.Teeth of a fossil shark (Striatolamia usakensis Glickman) from the Glickman’s collection of the fossil cartilaginous fishes, the State Darwin MuseumAmmonoid (Simbirskites sp.)Brachiopods (Choristites sp.)

Fossil shark teeth collection

Fossil shark teeth collection

Curator: Eugenia Baykina.   113 010 specimens and dates back to the mid-50s of the 20th century. Formed by a renowned paleichthyologist from St. Petersburg Leonid Glickman, it contains specimens from various regions of Ukraine, the Volga region, Kazakhstan, and Soviet Central Asia. Today it includes material collected by V.I. Zhelezko and V.A. Kozlov (Yekaterinburg), as well as fragmented material from other private collectors. The collection is of great scientific value as its materials provided the necessary information for Leonid Glickman to write two extensive monographs - “Paleogene Sharks and Their Stratigraphic Significance” (Moscow, 1964) and “The Evolution of Cretaceous and Cenozoic Lamnoid Sharks” (Moscow, 1980), as well as several articles in which the author defines several new species and genera. The type material (holotypes) representing new taxa significantly increases the collection’s scientific value. The collection is of significant interest to paleontologists with various specializations.   Teeth of a fossil shark (Striatolamia usakensis Glickman).   Ammonite (Simbirskites sp.).Brachiopods (Choristites sp.).

Botany collection

Botany collection

Curator: Gennady Kurilin.   1 794 specimens of herbarium leaves, fruits, seeds, fragments of trunks, individual leaves, etc. The first herbarium material collected by Darwin museum’s founder Alexander Kohts in the early 20th century is mainly of memorial value. A historically important exhibit is a small herbarium sent to Alexander Kohts by Hugo Marie de Vries, a Dutch botanist and one of the first geneticists. The specimen illustrates the experiments of the latter on the evening primrose (Oenothera lamarckiana). Unfortunately, over time, this herbarium has lost its colors. The herbarium collected by V.V. Kozhemyakin in the early 70s in the northern aimags (provinces) of Mongolia is of great scientific value. It contains 740 herbarium sheets.  Of certain interest is the crops material of barley, wheat, rye and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), collected in Dagestan at an experimental breeding station near the city of Derbent. It is used in museum permanent exhibition to illustrate the laws of genetics. Herbariums with clover leaves that are trifoliate, quatrefoiled, cinquefoil, or septfoil are also interesting.A herbarium sheet with the evening primrose (Oenothera lamarckiana) – a gift from Hugo Marie de Vries.

Animal Sounds Recordings

Animal Sounds Recordings

Curator: Alexander Rubtsov The collection holds 388 items, including replicated vinyl records, compact discs, cassette tapes and original recordings on magnetic tape.   The collection of original records comprises: 1. a collection of voices of birds (about 300 species, 100 hours of recording); 2. a collection of mammalian voices of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University (80 species, about 700 hours of recording); 3. records made by Darwin museum employee Alexander Rubtsov. All original recordings are digitized and stored on CDs in WAV format. Each file is accounted in the database. Currently, the materials of this collection are widely used in the permanent exhibition. Vinyl discs with birds' voices recordings.CDs with mammals' voices recordings.

Rare Books Collection

Rare Books Collection

Curator: Varvara Mironova   More than 9 245 books from the middle of the 16th to the end of the 20th century in English, French, German, and Russian languages. The Rare Book Collection used to be part of the Museum’s general book collection in 1982. Today it includes natural science publications before early 20th century, books with inscriptions made by famous biologists, books from the library of the Museum founder and the staff, books on biology published during the Eastern Front of World War II, as well as limited-edition books of the 20th century. Nowadays, the fund is regularly replenished annually mainly by personal donations.   The oldest books in the collection date back to the Late Middle Ages and are written in Latin. Among the most notable publications are the seven volumes of the encyclopedia by a Swiss scientist Conrad Gessner (1516-1565), twelve volumes of the works by an Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605), books by French naturalist Pierre Belon (1517-1564).   One of the most unusual and interesting works of the 17th century is “Arca Noe” (1675) by a German Jesuit scholar and polymath Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680). The book contains detailed drawings of Noah’s ark, description of the ship’s buoyancy mechanism, a map of the Earth of the 17th century, and even a map of Paradise. Moreover, Kircher calculated how much food for animals Noah needed to store, what size cages had to be, how people and animals were to be placed on a ship. The book holds images of animals with names in five languages.   Some books are of particular interest due to their unusual history. These include the multivolume “Herbarium Amboinense” (1750) by Georg Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702) - a German-born botanist employed by the Dutch East India Company - which includes a tragic story of his personal life. He had been working on the 12 volumes catalog of the plants of the island of Amboina for thirty years, but never saw his work published. When carrying out the research, the scientist became blind from glaucoma; his wife and a daughter died in an earthquake. When the work was almost finished, the illustrations burned in a fire and had to be restored later; the early copies of his book were lost when the ship carrying them to the Netherlands to be published was sunk by the pirates; and finally, 12 volumes of the manuscript that arrived safely in Amsterdam were banned by the censor committee. The book was published only 39 years later, after the death of the researcher, in 1741. One of the rarest and valuable books is the “Birds of America” by John James Audubon, published from 1827 to 1838. The first and very rare edition consists of four complete albums of engravings depicting life-size birds. The Rare Book Collection also contains the first edition of the text from the sequel “Ornithological Biographies” (1831–39), as well as two subsequent editions of “Birds of America” with images and text combined.   In the collection houses some unique and very unusual editions, such as the book by Alfred Ronalds “The Fly-Fisher's Entomology” (1913) first published in 1836. This is the eleventh and final edition of the book. Although the work was Ronalds' only book, it has been extensively reprinted in the last 100 years. Of particular interest is the album of fishing hooks with artificial flies designed to imitate real insects, as well as instructions for their manufacture.   The Rare Books Collection contains periodicals and magazines both scientific and popular from different time periods. The most notable one is “Curtis’s Botanical Magazine” - the oldest existing botanical magazine, which has been published for more than 225 years. “The Birds of China” by Armand David, 1877.Animals by Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1639.

Photo Archive

Photo Archive

Curator: Anna Kurzayeva   The collection comprises 13 090 objects, including all photographs of the museum’s life since the very beginning. Of considerable interest are photographs illustrating the zoopsychological experiments with anthropoid apes, parrots, and other animals carried out by Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts. There are also portrait photos of many famous Russian and foreign biologists. Moreover, the collection holds a significant number of reversal films and photographic plates. The main purpose of this collection is to store visual materials/evidence of Darwinm museum’s history, as well as of the history of natural sciences and portraits of prominent Russian and foreign biologists, naturalists, and museum employees. Furthermore, it is a valuable source of photographic materials related to the works of animalist artists and taxidermists who collaborated with Darwin museum.

Paintings collection

Paintings collection

Curator: Antonina Nefedova.   1 850 artworks performed on canvas, cardboard, and plywood (mostly oil, less often tempera).Since the beginning of the 20th century, at different times, the best Russian animalist artists such as V.A. Vatagin, A.L. Komarov, N.N. Kondakov, V.V. Trofimov, K.K. Flerov, A.N. Formozov, V.A. Belyshev worked for the museum. Their wonderful paintings, a significant part of which can be seen at the museum's permanent exhibition, is the heart of the collection. A well-known series of paintings (oil on canvas) by V. A. Vatagin on the topic of zoogeography, sketched from the author's watercolors, were commissioned for the "Atlas of zoogeography" by Professor M. A. Menzbira published in Moscow, 1911. Of great interest are paintings by Vasily Vatagin and Konstantin Flerov depicting extinct animals with great scientific accuracy. Most of them are also exhibited in Darwin museum halls. A significant number of paintings by Vasily Vatagin, Konstantin Flerov, and Mikhail Ezuchevsky is covering one topic - "Animals in the service of man". White-headed Cockatoo by Vasily Vatagin. Oil on cardboard, 1919. Portrait of a young Charles Darwin with the botanist John Henslow by Viktor Evstafiev. Oil on cardboard, 1960. Cassowaries by Vasily Vatagin. Oil on canvas, 1938.Fauna of the mountainous areas of Indochina by Vasily Vatagin. Oil on canvas, 1939.

Graphics collection

Graphics collection

Curator: Antonina Nefedova   9 234 specimens, including all kinds of graphic works - drawings (pencil, ink, drybrush, sanguine, pastel, sauce, felt-tip pen), watercolors (colored, grisaille), mixed media (watercolor-gouache, watercolor-tempera, gouache-tempera, and other combinations), lithography, linocut, woodcut, etching. Graphic works of various topics. Basically, these are sketches from life and various kinds of plot compositions (often sketches) by the leading Russian animalist artists of the classical school - V.A. Vatagin, V.V. Trofimov, V.A. Belyshev, K.K. Flerov, N.N. Kondakov, E.E. Nikolsky, A.N. Komarov, A.N. Formozov, G.N. Glickman, as well as artists of a later period - L.V. Khinshtein, I.P. Makoveeva, S.V. Tsigal, V.A. Gorbatov, M.M. Kukunov, V.M. Smirin. Book illustrations for various scientific, popular science, fiction, and children's books by V.V. Trofimov, N.N. Kondakov, O.F. Khludova, V.A. Belyshev, A.N. Komarov, G.E. Nikolsky, and other authors. The jewel of the museum collection is a series of graphic images of monkeys depicting their emotional manifestations and psychological state by Vasily Vatagin, as well as scientific graphic reconstructions of fossil animals by Konstantin Flerov. They were commissioned specifically for the future museum’s permanent exhibition.   In addition to works of the animalistic genre, the collection also contains graphic works on historical topics, such as pastels by Mikhail Ezuchevsky on the history of the natural science topic."The family of lynx" by A.N. Komarov. Dry brush on paper, 1969."An eagle with prey" by A.N. Komarov.Oil tinted autolithograph, the 1950s.

Sculptures collection

Sculptures collection

Curator: V. Udaltsova. The collection holds 1 331 artworks – both monumental and small sculptures  made of plaster, marble, ceramics, porcelain, terracotta, chamotte, wood, bronze, and other metals.   Some notable monumental sculptures were made by V.A. Vatagin, K.K. Flerov, and V.V. Trofimov - plaster sculptures of various animals, both fossil and living, usually life-size. These works are remarkable for their impeccable scientific authenticity, the beauty of postures and forms, the elegance of lines. Of great interest is the extensive series of reconstructions of primitive man (busts) made in full size in tinted plaster by M.M. Gerasimov, many of which are part of the museum’s permanent exhibition.   Since the beginning of the 1980s the museum has been collecting small animalistic sculptures, including the artworks of V.V. Trofimov, A.V. Marts, A.M. Belashov, M.G. Ostrovskaya, D.Ya. Uspensky, B.Ya. Vorobyev, G.N. Popandopulo, O.V. Malysheva, A.S. Tsvetkov, S.A. Kazansky, S.E. Peshekhonov, and other authors. The exhibits of this collection are often used at various temporary exhibitions held at the museum. Moeritherium (on the left) and Palaeomastodon by K.K. Flerov. Plaster. A pheasant by S.A. Kazansky. Bronze.A walking mandrill by B.A. Vorobiev. Chamotte.

Museum History Collection

Museum History Collection

Curator: Anna Vasylyeva1 495 objects, including everyday items and working tools of the Museum’s employees (Alexander Kohts, Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, Philipp Fedulov), as well as furniture of Alexander Kohts, Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, and Russian embryologist, professor Alexander Kowalevsky. Taxidermy instruments of Dmitry Fedulov. The office of Alexander Kohts with authentic furniture, books, and personal belongings. 

Archive collection

Archive collection

Curator: Peter Plyutto.9 792 objects, including scientific documents and research papers, as well as correspondence.The basis of this collection is the personal archive of the Museum’s founder and first director Alexander Kohts, his spouse - zoopsychologist Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, as well as some other employees who worked at the Museum since the very beginning.The collection includes personal archives of an animalist artist Michael Ezuchevsky, who used to work for Darwin museum, and the one of his father – a renowned physicist Dmitry Ezuchevsky, as well as the archive of a prominent Russian scientist, zoologist and naturalist remembered for his work on mammalogy Sergey Ognev.5 genuine letters of Charles Darwin, addressed to Dr. A. Ernst, are of special historical and cultural value. Currently, the Archive collection is being systematized and cataloged.  A letter from Francis Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin, to Dr. A. Ernst.A letter from Charles Darwin to Dr. A. Ernst.The noble birth certificate of Michael Ezuchevsky, 1903.