Archives finds tooth in zoological catalog

Archives finds tooth in zoological catalog

The University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture has been collecting zoological specimens for more than 130 years to help document critters from Washington state and around the world.

For months, Burke staffers have been preparing for a move into a new building. The Washington State Archives digitized three volumes of Zoological Catalogs dating back to collections from the 1890s to help preserve these unique books.

The catalogs include species from land, air, and sea, with scientific binomial names, common names, location of collection, when the sample was collected, and various remarks about the management of the specimen. 

Every now and then, the everyday tedium of archives work is interrupted by a eureka moment, like Indiana Jones discovering a clue to the Ark of the Covenant.

Okay, maybe it’s not usually that exciting. However, when Archives staffer Devin O’Brian was starting the digitization of the third volume, he came across a small tooth. Our Archivists don’t have a professional archaeologist in their ranks, so Burke museum staff were alerted about the discovery in hopes of confirmation of the genus and species.

Given the size and location of the tooth within the volume, Archives’ best guess is that it came from a weasel or similar animal. Hopefully, the tooth can be reunited with the rest of the inventory soon to give museum staff a more detailed understanding of the world.

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