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For Some Scientists, The Call To Get Rid Of Natural History Collections Can Be Personal

Catfish that are part of the Tulane fish collection are stored in jars full of alcohol. Tulane is about to receive a large share of the University of Louisiana Monroe fish collection because ULM no longer wants to support it. (Irina Zhorov/The Pulse)
Catfish that are part of the Tulane fish collection are stored in jars full of alcohol. Tulane is about to receive a large share of the University of Louisiana Monroe fish collection because ULM no longer wants to support it. (Irina Zhorov/The Pulse)

Natural history collections serve as a time capsule of sorts, preserving life on Earth. And these collections — birds, bones, stones — always carry the fingerprints of those who collected the specimens. Their passions, interests and hard work become part of what’s stored in flash display cases or dusty drawers.

So when a collection’s future is threatened, it gets personal.

Irina Zhorov (@zhorovir) of WHYY’s The Pulse looks at one story of what happens when collections bow to other priorities.

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