"if you borrow a specimen you better return it or we will hunt you down"
June 4, 2017 6:52 PM   Subscribe

One of the the missions of "No Bones" is to provide a more personal, public face for research and collections of the Invertebrate Zoology department at the US National Museum of Natural History. To this end they have shown lovely cross-sections of sliced stalked jellyfish, weird sea snail eyes, and, this librarian's favorite, the story of a 133 year overdue loan returned to the invertebrate zoology department. Also they have a twitter.
posted by jessamyn (6 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Not just an overdue loan - they re-cataloged it and added it to their collection ...
posted by carter at 5:20 AM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was just talking with a bunch of my fellow treehopper researchers this weekend at treehopper camp (with the excellent folks behind the treehopper museum page) and folks started telling tall tales of long-term collection loans being recovered. The upshot is that this happens ALL. THE. TIME. People fill out loan paperwork, but unsurprisingly it gets lost, curators come and go, and eventually no one remembers where the specimens actually are. For type specimens this is especially upsetting, since the paper in which they're originally described lists what collection the type was deposited in.

Most often the recovery doesn't happen this way, with them being tracked down and requested back. Instead, people just ship specimens back to you. "Oh. You had these? Since when? Okay." Our collection at UConn recently had a Paraguayan mammal collection sent back that no one knew was ours. HUGE specimens! Big skulls and beautiful bat study skins! Reincorporating those paid the summer bills for at least one grad student.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 6:25 AM on June 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

"if you borrow a specimen you better return it or we will hunt you down"

Don't cross people who have a basement full of dead bodies.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:09 AM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here's the Yale Peabody Museum record, I think, with some further images.
posted by carter at 7:10 AM on June 5, 2017

I enjoyed the story of the overdue loan. Thank you for sharing this!
posted by brainwane at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2017

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