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Herpetological Collections at the University of Texas at Arlington

 A Brief History

     The Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center originally started as a natural history specimen collection at the University of Texas at Arlington.  The collection was founded in 1956 by UTA professor emeritus William F. Pyburn.  The primary purpose of the collection was to assist students in the classroom when unfamiliar aspects of animal anatomy or natural history were being discussed.  For this purpose a variety of mammal, birds, reptile, and amphibian specimens were acquired.  However, the collection also started to serve as a depository for specimens collected from field expeditions. 

     It was during the 1970s that Dr. Pyburn began his southward sojourns to the jungles of Colombia, South America.  These ventures were not for anyone less than intrepid as Dr. Pyburn often drove the entire way from Arlington, Texas.  However, the traveling paid off and as a result Dr. Pyburn not only collected specimens for the university, but along the way made some very interesting scientific discoveries.  Today the unique specimens collected by Dr. Pyburn are still considered highly valuable to herpetology.

     During the 1980s the herpetological collection witnessed an explosive session of growth.  Prior to the 1980s the collection contained approximately 8,000 herpetological specimens.  By the end of the decade more than 30,000 specimens were housed in the collection.  During the 1990s the size of the collection increased at an almost exponential rate.  During this time, the collection grew to contain more than 80,000 specimens.  This combined with efforts from  faculty and students helped to establish national and international recognition for the collection.  Since the turn of the century the herpetology collection at the University of Texas at Arlington has experienced more growth and the collection now houses some 115,000 specimens and is among the top herpetological collections in the United States.  In 2004 the entire herpetological collection was moved from the basement of the Life Sciences building to the newly constructed Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center.

     Asides from housing a major herpetological collection, the Department of Biology at the  University of Texas at Arlington has hosted and facilitated the academic pursuits of a diverse student body.  This has also provided inherent benefits to the museum collection as well.  The collection currently holds the worlds largest assemblage of reptiles and amphibians from Guatemala as well as significant holdings from Texas, Bolivia, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Honduras, and Mexico.  Along with several thousand fluid preserved specimens, the collection maintains several type specimens, a sizeable osteological collection, cleared and stained specimens, audio recordings of frog calls, one of the largest collections of herpetological photographs in the United States, as well as a comprehensive herpetological library.  These resources can be made available for use by qualified individuals.  For questions regarding the use of the collection resources please email or call 817-272-2406.

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