Specimens in jars

Please read the following guidelines before requesting a loan.


UCM Vertebrate Collections loans are granted for scientific, exhibition, and educational purposes only. All loans are made to established institutions, and requests are only considered from permanent staff or faculty members of universities, museums, and scientific organizations. Requests from students, postdoctoral fellows, or visiting researchers must be cosigned by a sponsor such as a faculty advisor or resident curator/collection manager affiliated with the borrowing institution.

Ultimate responsibility of the specimens is assumed by the institution to which the specimens are loaned. Specimens may not be transferred or moved to another institution without prior written permission from UCM.

Loans are typically granted for a 6 month period. Extensions should be requested before the current loan period expires. Delinquent loans may delay the processing of new requests and/or prevent future loan requests by the individual borrower or affiliated institution.

Ordinarily, not more than one-half of a taxonomic or locality series may be borrowed at any one time. The remainder may be requested upon the return of the first loan.

Type material, endangered taxa, fragile specimens, or those which are represented by fewer than 5 specimens in the UCM Vertebrate Collections are generally not considered for loans. However, researchers are encouraged to visit UCM to view these specimens. Loans of individual specimens, no matter the total number of specimens for that taxon, will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Care & Handling

Loaned specimens should be handled with great care. All labels, tags, and accompanying data are to be kept associated with specimens. Specimens should be stored in secure cabinetry in a climate-controlled facility for the duration of the loan. Fluid-preserved specimens should be maintained in 70-75% ethanol unless otherwise indicated and kept moist in ethanol during examination (never transferred to water, even briefly). Do not subject specimens to any mechanical or chemical treatments without prior approval.

Specimens may not be altered in any way without express written permission from UCM. Any products of preparation, such as DNA samples, SEM stubs, histological or karyotypic slides, etc., are regarded as part of the specimen and must also be returned to UCM unless specifically addressed in writing.

All loans must be returned via UPS, FedEx, DHL or other such high quality carriers with tracking capability (USPS registered/insured priority mail is not acceptable). Loan materials should be carefully packed in the same manner in which they were sent, adhering to all applicable IATA/DOT Dangerous Goods regulations.

Data Reporting & Citation

Copies of any ancillary data generated from loans such as  images, CT scans, measurements, scale counts, sex and reproductive data, genetic sequences, etc. must be sent and/or reported to UCM so that it may be appended to the associated specimen record(s).

A copy of publications resulting from work on material loaned from UCM must be sent to the UCM Vertebrate Collections. Credit must be attributed to the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Vertebrate Collections, citing all the relevant UCM catalog numbers.

Loan requests should include the following information:

  1. Full name of requestor (and sponsor, if applicable), institutional affiliation, mailing address, email, and phone number.
  2. UCM catalog numbers and complete taxonomic information of requested specimens (see Databases).
  3. Proposed activities to be conducted using the specimens (if measurements, specify types of measurements to be taken).
  4. Justification of the need of the specimens for the proposed study.
  5. Experience of the researcher in handling natural history specimens.
  6. Summary of previous work on the taxonomic group.
  7. Summary of specimens requested from other institutions.
  8. Requested borrowing period (loan duration will ultimately be decided by UCM Curator and Collections Manager).

Please direct loan requests to Emily Braker, Vertebrate Collections Manager.

Requests for permission to perform dissection, clearing and staining, DNA subsampling or other destructive methods are not granted routinely but are decided on a case-by-case basis (see Destructive/Invasive Sampling Policy).

Permission to photograph loaned specimens must be requested separately. Please view the UCM Image Reproduction Policy.