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The insect collection is the largest at The Field Museum, with more than 12 million specimens - only (only?!) 4 million of those are pinned in the dry collection. Crystal is in charge of all of them- no pressure. Want to search the zoological collections on your own? Look no further!: http://bit.ly/fmnhzoology
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Big thanks to Crystal for showing us around! Can we come back some time!?
Learn more about her research on water beetles: https://youtu.be/MuCIjL5TddA
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Producer, Writer, Creator, Host:
Emily Graslie

Director, Editor, Graphics, Sound:
Brandon Brungard

Editor, Camera:
Sheheryar Ahsan

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This episode is supported by and filmed on location at:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL
(http://www.fieldmuseum.org)
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We're back with Crystal down here in the pinned Insect collection at The Field Museum!

So the Insect Collection is the largest collection in the Field Museum It is, there is about twelve millions insects specimens and there is about four millions specimens right here in this room So the other...eight million are..? - They are downstairs in alcohol So let's go see some of the insects Sure! Our whole collections is stored in cabinets like these.

And each of the cabinets has space for... several drawers. So if we open this up. There are about fifteen drawers per cabinet, Wow!

And then all of our specimens are stored in tiny... Boxes that we called trays. These trays are especially built just for our collections They're called Field Museum trays.

All of these cabinets here have... the same family of beetle. All of these drawers have the same Genus and the all of the same species is kept together, that way...when the scientist comes in they can just...say "I'm looking for this species and this genus and this family." And... Bam! there you go!

It's like Dewey Decimals systems for... Exactly! for insects. - Exactly! You're moving... several tons of cabinets. -...with the strength of an army!

What's really cool about our rove beetle collections is that it's one of the best in the world. We had two experts on... rove beetles here, Al Newton and Margaret Thayer. We also have about seven thousand type specimens.

We've been working on... Databasing those types and imaging them, so you can go online, anybody can go online and take a look at our Rove Beetle types. When you say "seven thousands types" that's not just...

Random specimens, those are "The Specimens" Yes! that going to collections, after a new species is named. Exactly! We have a lot more specimens than seven thousand.

But we have seven thousand of... the specimens that the person who originally described it designated as the name barer. [Emily] That's wild! - It bearsr the name of the new species. These blank spaces with the number, indicate where we sent specimens off to other researchers to study all around the world! We're hoping that... by...databasing all of our types by photographing them, that'll reduced the need for people to come and see them in person.

I want to point out this collections because this is one of our... historically most important collections, it's the Frank Psota Collection. The collector that started this, he was the kind of this "Pokemon" mindset like the..."Gotta catch 'em all" kinda thing. So what he would do... was whenever he was missing a species from his collections, he would do a little drawing, or a little painting and he would put it the unit tray next to the specimens that were closely related or where the species should go -So he would like... would like to take the drawing and be like... "I'm coming for you guy." [laugh] Ha you're next! - I hope so So it's pretty interesting that...even though He didn't know... what would happen to his collections eventually the fact that we keep all of it, with it, I think it... - Right! enhanced like it uniqueness Right!

Exactly! [Emily] and It kind of that... [Emily] that collecting mentality... - Nobody else in the world has a collection like this. God! and...these are and this are some Amazing! Amazing beetles! - Yeah! check out this purple [Emily] It's a nice purple - This is...this is purple [Emily] Have you ever seen purple... - This is purple in it's purist form These are all Flower Chafers They have named of old countries That don't exist anymore [Emily] Oh yeah This is big problem with our digitization where you have interpret that and try to figure out, well, "What was this?" Country called [Emily] Back in nineteen forty twoo...yea... - Exactly!

Exactly! What special about this space, you can...disappear This is the greatest place to play hide-and-seek by the way Cause this literally like... there's a... I can..

I can... My shoulders don't fit. This is the slide collection.

These are mites. And there you have it There's some mites on there. Ohh..

That's why they on a...m... microscope slide. - Exactly! Cause they're hard to see. Ya.

And so all of these economically important some of them infest live stock, some of them infest your pets, some of them transmit dangerous diseases. Yikes! Maybe not so much in the US, but other places in the world.

So how many of these boxes you have? Tens of thousands. That's a lot.

That is a lot. a lot of mites. It is a lot of mites. But, It's really important collections and we have two or three researchers a year come here to work on my collections.

Do you want to see some cockroaches? [Emily] Yes! Wow!! [chuckle] Those are huge! These are giant caves roaches.

They look like they have little shuffle on their head. These are so much cooler than your German Cockroach that live in your basement. I don't have cockroaches is my basement.

How do you know? They're very sneaky. [Emily] No. What's really cool is we're actually databasing them so we're putting a barcode on all the specimens, so that..we can and put all of the information online, and so in this all over the world, can access that information.

That's so useful. - Yeah. [Emily] That can help inform how people receives loans and request loans. Exactly! Crystal, this collections is so... incredibly massive, It's the largest collections in the museum and you mentions there'a a huge percentage that has yet to be identified But do you think they're all ever be a point where you have identify every thing, so you, what all the specimens are and there's no more questions to ask?

Not in my lifetime, Not in...several lifetimes, I really don't think so. I mean this is... This is just a treasure trove of stuff.

Fifty years ago we didn't know that we were going to extracting DNA out of this specimens. Yeah. So who knows what were going to be doing with these specimens fifty years into the future This is a cabinet of specimens that the leading experts on beetles have looked at and still they don't know what they are.

If you interested in insects, seems like there's is is almost...the...the... the wild west. Yes! there was an infinite amount of work to do. Anybody with a backyard and some pins... and... you know...a cigar box can start an insect collections.

There's a new species that been described right here from the Museum campus. Really?! Ya There's a brand new species... - Right outside...right outside. [Emily] Wow! - Nobody knew about It's a fly.

Jeez! maybe that's a different story - That's a different story. [Emily] That's another brainscoop. Yes. ha ha Thanks for having me. That was great! - Yea...

I don't... [thebrainscoop jingle] ... It still has brain on it.