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Mammals are warm-blooded animals that have:
- mammary glands which produce milk
- hair of some form (even whales have hair)
- live births (except for monotremes which lay eggs)
The Australian Museum Mammalogy collection is one of the most comprehensive collections of Australian and Pacific mammals in the world, with the largest collection of mammal Type specimens in Australia.
The overall collection size is estimated at 52,500 specimens and 13,700 tissues representing 170 different taxa, of which 99.9 percent is digitised. The collection is home to 882 Type specimens representing 210 proposed names and is stored across both the museum’s Sydney CBD and Castle Hill Discovery Centre sites.
The collection contains specimens of most Australian and New Guinea monotreme and marsupial species as well as extensive rodent, bat and marine mammal collections from the region. The collection contains the majority of world specimens for at least 15 taxa and six that are known only from the Holotype. There are also mammal specimens from 22 recently extinct species and several species now extinct in NSW.
The geographic coverage of the collection is represented by approximately 650 mammal species from the Australo-Pacific region with extensive collections from Australia (in particular NSW), New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Vanuatu and Fiji. An additional 560 species originate from over 100 countries outside the region.
The mammal collection includes specimens collected during the early period of exploration of Australia such as those collected during Ludwig Leichardt's 1844-1848 expedition to Northern Australia, Edmund Kennedy's 1847-1848 expedition and early scientific expeditions such as William Macleay's 1875 Chevert Expedition to New Guinea, the Blandowski Expedition to the Murray-Darling Rivers from 1856-1857 and Sir Douglas Mawson's Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914. There are also extensive collections from New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia made by Professor Tim Flannery and others during the late 1980s and early 1990s.