Bluntschli Collection

(by Robert Asher)

Throughout the early and middle parts of the 20th century, Hans Bluntschli collected a large number of mammalian taxa from Madagascar and South America. Many of these animals were prepared histologically and are now housed in the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History.

The bulk of the collection is comprised of over 70 serially sectioned and stained specimens of the cheirogaleid primate Microcebus. Sections were cut in a number of planes and the most commonly used stain was Hematoxylin-Eosin. Some of the specimens are gravid uteri and placentas. There are also over 50 individuals of different ontogenetic stages, ranging in size from little more than a primitive streak to one adult head. The vast majority of Microcebus specimens range from 8 to 40 mm crown-rump length (CRL). Also among the histologically prepared primates are 1-3 specimens each of Saimiri, Cebus, Aotus, Saguinus, Avahi, and the sectioned limbs of a tarsier.

There are also several histologically prepared tenrecid insectivorans in the collection, including embryos and maternal genital tracts of Tenrec, Setifer, and Hemicentetes. The sectioned embryos range in size from 20-24 mm CRL (and a neonatal head) in Tenrec; 5-13 mm CRL in Hemicentetes; and 15-26 CRL in Setifer.

In addition, the collection contains numerous pickled, unsectioned specimens of primates, lipotyphlans, and a smaller number of carnivorans (e.g., Fossa), edentates (e.g., Bradypus), and other mammals.

The Department has a binocular platform microscope to facilitate use of this collection. Photography or other means of accessing these histological data must be arranged in advance.