The Academy of Natural Sciences is the oldest natural history museum in North America. By virtue of that fact, the Herpetology Collection at the Academy is one of the most historically important and biologically diverse in the world. The collection is of moderate size and cosmopolitan in scope with a strong emphasis of New World species. Prominent in the collection, and a special reason for its great value, are the primary types for many taxa. It contains more than 500 named forms, and includes many primary types. The current catalogues of the collection were begun around 1897 when Henry Weed Fowler became curator of "cold-blooded" vertebrates. Today the collection is completely databased and contains more than 40,000 specimens. It continues to grow and serve as a valuable tool to contemporary biological research.

Staff Contact

Ned Gilmore

Collections Manager

Ned Gilmore


Ned Gilmore started working for the Academy in 1991. He has worked on collection databaseing, curation and Type studies of several of the collections at the Academy. His interests are in the Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary fossils of the eastern coastal plain of North America. Ned also participates in many outreach programs for Academy members and the local community.


Many specimens at the Academy were collected and described by the eminent scientists of the time. Much of the personal collection of the great 19th century herpetologist, Edward D. Cope is preserved here, (over 3000 specimens). This material was the basis for several major works on snake classification.

Other important early collections deposited at the Academy include those of Jacob Green; specimens from Africa obtained by S.M.E. Goheen, H.A. Ford and P.B. DuChaillu and reported upon by Edward Hallowell, S.W. Woodhouse and A.L. Heermann; and specimens utilized by John Holbrook, Thomas Say, John LeConte, Charles Girard and Richard Harlan. Also present is the Charles Bonaparte collection, purchased and presented to the Academy by Dr. T.B. Wilson.

Additonal significant collections include those received from A. Donaldson-Smith (Africa), S.N. Rhoads (US, Ecuador), J.A.G. Rehn (US), H.A. Pilsbry (US), H.W. Fowler (US), J.A. Spotila, (US), J.T. Sackett (West Indies), the Carpenter African Expediton, R.M. DeScauensee (Thailand), E.R. Dunn (US, Central America), Kjell von Sneidern (Colombia) and the Harrison-Hiller Expediton (Borneo).

Click here to learn more about the Herpetology Department's Loan Policies & Agreements.