Family Series

Identification Day

May 6, 2017

Identification Day thumbnail

Celebrate natural history collections by bringing in your own specimens to the Museum's annual Identification Day! Scientists will attempt to identify your discoveries while showing you rarely seen specimens from the Museum's collections.     

NEW THIS YEAR: Preserving Specimens for Science

The Museum’s collection of more than 33 million specimens includes modern animals and ancient fossils, including naturally mummified specimens like Effie the mammoth, on view in the Hall of Advanced Mammals. So how do scientists preserve different types of specimens to ensure they can be studied by future generations? How many different ways are there to preserve a fish, or a bird, or a shell? What research questions can you ask of each kind of specimen today, and what might scientists be able to ask tomorrow? Learn from Museum experts about the many ways to preserve a specimen for science.  

Participating scientists include researchers from Anthropology, Botany, Earth and Planetary SciencesEntomologyHerpetologyIchthyologyInvertebrate PaleontologyMammalogyMicroscopyOrnithologyPaleontology.

Before you come to Identification Day, here are a few tips that will help scientists identify your specimens:


  • Bring as much information on your specimens as possible. If it belongs to a friend or family member, try to get the information from them.


  • Please only bring plants that you have permission to collect.
  • Plant samples that have flowers or fruits (or both) are much easier to identify than those without.
  • Bring your plant sample in a zip-lock bag (this will keep the plant moist for easier identification and will avoid spreading pests in the Museum).
  • Please try to bring fresh (very recently collected) plant samples.


  • Bring as much information on your specimen as possible, especially its place of origin.

A Special Note on Animal Specimens

  • With the exception of insects, please do not bring any live or dead specimens. Photos of your snake, bird, or other specimen will suffice for identification.