Ice Age Research

Mahaska County Mammoths


Multiple mammoth site containing at least one Woolly Mammoth. Discovered in Mahaska County, IA in 2010.


Troublesome Creek Giant Short-faced Bear


Iowa's first confirmed Giant Short-faced bear discovery. Found in Cass County, Iowa  in 2008.



Tarkio Valley Sloth Project

A group of three Giant Ground Sloths; one adult, one adolsecent and one juvenile, discovered in Shenandoah, Iowa in 2001.


Research Collections

Our collections include approximately 140,000 specimens, objects, and artifacts. Our database is not yet online, but researchers, faculty, instructors, students, and others needing more detailed information on our collections should contact our collections manager, Cindy Opitz, at or 319-335-0481.


The main divisions of our collections are:


Ornithology: More than 31,000 birds (study skins or mounted), eggs, and nests.

Mammalogy: More than 5,000 study skins, skulls, skeletons, fluid-preserved specimens, and mounted specimens.

Other vertebrates: A small number of reptiles, fish, and amphibians.

Entomology: Approximately 41,000 pinned insects, including at least 4 type specimens. In 2013-2015 the entire entomology collection is being rehoused and digitized thanks to grant funding from the State Historical Society of Iowa and the National Science Foundation.

Other Invertebrates: Approximately 44,000 specimens and lots, dry or fluid-preserved, including crustaceans, leeches, mollusks, sponges, corals, and other taxa. Most have not yet been catalogued and up-to-date identifications may be lacking.

Archaeology and ethnography: More than 6,000 objects, including Archaic period lithics, Meskwaki beadwork, ceramics, and ethnographic objects from around the world.


Our significant and named collections include:

1890-1895 Kallam Collection 700 stone tools from Tama County, Iowa
1892 Talbot Bird Collection 7,000 bird skins & ornithological library
1892-1895 Frank Russell Collection ethnographic materials, birds and mammals (see list)
1904 Philippine Collection, St. Louis World's Fair ethnographic materials (see list)
1930 Jones Bird Collection 600 mounted birds and 8,000 eggs