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Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Sapphirina auronitens

A drawing by Giesbrecht (1892) of the Copepoda, Sapphirina auronitens Claus, 1863

image of the global diversity of the National Invertebrate Collections
Global diversity of the National Invertebrate Collections
(red dots indicate localities of IZ collections)

The Department of Invertebrate Zoology (IZ) is one of the oldest scientific units in the Smithsonian Institution. It was established in 1856 to house invertebrates collected from the U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition. Collections from the U.S. Exploring Expedition (aka Wilkes Expedition) were added in 1858. Current holdings are approximately 35 million specimens in over 15 linear miles of storage. More than 40% of these specimens have computer records that can be queried at the IZ collections database. Parasitic worms (Acanthocephala, Cestoda, Monogenea, parasitic Nematoda, and Trematoda) are now managed by IZ. Brachiopoda and Foraminifera are managed by the Department of Paleobiology; and the Insecta, Myriapoda, and non-marine Chelicerata are managed by the Department of Entomology.

Queries about accessing our collection should be made through

Search IZ Collections

Loan Policy and Procedure

  Which IZ Curator is responsible for which taxa

Destructive Sampling Policy and Procedure

Donating Specimens – Assignment of USNM catalog numbers

Scientific Visits

Programs and Databases

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