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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

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  About "North American Mammals"

Search the Archive
 • Species Name
 • Family Tree
 • Conservaton Status
 • Skulls
 • Bones and Teeth
Field Guide
 • Map Search
   Including search by
     • Location
     • Ecoregion
     • Species
     • National Park
 • About Maps
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   Teacher Resources
   About the Site
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About this Site

This educational Web site, designed to serve as a resource for students, teachers, and the general public interested in the biology and identification of mammals in North America, was developed by the External Affairs and Public Programs Division of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The resources we make available are derived from the Museum's unparalleled natural history collections, its scientific research, permanent and special exhibits, libraries, and through collaborations with other organizations and individuals with special resources to complement the site.

This Web site includes detailed descriptions, images, and distribution ranges for more than 740 mammals native to the North American continent. The primary resources for the site have been based in the continental United States, but as the opportunity occurs, the site will be expanded to complete the species found in Canada and Mexico.

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Search Tools

Map Search

An interactive map of the North American Continent allows the user to search for all of the mammals that occur at a specific location.

The map provides a variety of optional overlays to assist in this search: topography, states and province boundaries, cities, rivers, and US interstate highways.

The magnification tool (+ and - buttons) enables you to change the scale of the map to more accurately position your cursor. Hold down mouse left cursor and pull to a small rectangle to zoom quickly to a map of finer detail for a particular area.

A click on the "Center" tool and then a click on your cursor will center the map at your cursor.

A click on the "Pan" tool allows you to drag the map with your cursor in whatever direction you wish.

Click on the button "Mammal Search", then move your cursor to the desired location and on the map and click to get a list of the mammalian species indigenous to that location. You can use your browser to look at each species on the list or you can create a personal Field Guide by checking the boxes next to the species of interest. Some locations may have only 30 species, but others might have as many as 70 or 80.

Once you have finished using the map search tool, you can return to the other parts of the site by hitting the "Home" button; the back button of your browser will not take you out of the map site.

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Location Searches

If you know the geographic coordinates for a particular location, you can search by latitude and longitude. The results will be displayed as a list that can be converted to a personal field guide ("Search Species") (see Field Guide) or as a set of images ("Visual Search").

We have also provided drop down lists of the states and provinces and many of the national parks and their geographic coordinates. Instead of trying to locate your favorite national park or other location on the map, you can find it on these lists; when you select a location and the one of the buttons, the search will start and the output will appear either as a list ("Search Species") or as a set of images ("Visual Search").

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Species Name Search

The site offers a number of ways to find species, genera, families, and orders of mammals. Searches can be made using scientific or common names.

The output choices are a list of species ("Search Species") or sets of images "Visual Search"). A mouse click on a species name or image will then open the Web page for that species, featuring a painting of the animal in a typical pose, a range map, a description of the species characteristics and measurements, and oftentimes one or more photographs, usually in the wild. Some species accounts include drawings of skulls and/or bones, important tools for the morphologist and evolutionary biologist.

If you wish to create a high quality print output, you should choose the "Search Species" button and then follow the instructions at the bottom of the list of mammals or in this document at Ceating a Field Guide.

If you would like a complete list of the mammals detailed on this Web site, go to "Species Name" at the top of the navigation bar, leave all entry boxes blank, and click on "Search Common Names".

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Family Tree Search

Another way to search for taxa is through the Family Tree, otherwise known as a cladogram. By mouse clicking on any highlighted group of mammals, the tree will expand to show all taxa included within the group. This diagram depicts genealogical relationships among groups of mammals, and it can reveal surprising results. For example, it shows that bears (ursids) are more closely related to seals and walruses (otorids, phocids, and odobenids), than they are to raccoons and their relatives (the procyonids). Also, within the dog family Canidae, the cladogram shows red foxes being more closely related to wolves than red foxes are to gray foxes. These counterintuitive results are what make the cladogram one worthwhile way to search. A mouse click on any genus in the cladogram will return a list of all the species in that genus; each one can then be viewed individually, or members of the group can be selected for a Field Guide output.

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Conservation Status Search

Yet another search tool is Conservation Status. The categories and conservation status of each species are taken from the 2012 IUCN Redlist - the World Conservation Union's assessments of threatened species. The Redlist is the world-recognized standard for global species status. The purpose of the Redlist is to "catalogue and highlight those taxa facing a higher global risk of extinction."

All but a few species on this website have a conservation status. Several species are included in Mammal Species of the World (MSW3) but are not recognized as a species under that name by IUCN. In these cases, IUCN might consider the MSW3 species as a subspecies and that conservation category is the one used here. If there is no parent species in IUCN but the species is listed in, the conservation status for that entry is included here.

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Special Collections Search

The Special Collections of bones and teeth both aid in the identification of species, and allow for the comparison of functional parts of the skull and skeleton. This collection is particularly suited for identifying adaptations, and making distinctions between taxa. The output can be either a list ("Search Species") or visual ("Visual Search").

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Field Guide

This Web site offers a special feature for printing information about species. This printout includes the location for which the information was collected, the animal names (scientific and common names), the species' painting and distribution range from the Web site, the descriptive information for the species, and a special area for notes. This Field Guide will include one page for each species in PDF format; you must use Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print the field guide.

PLEASE NOTE: each page (species) of the field guide represents about 50 KB information; if you are using a telephone modem, you will want to limit the number of animals you check. You should also set your printer for high quality output for best results.

To convert a list of species to a personal field guide, click in the box to the left of each species for those that you wish to include, or click on the "Select All" button at the bottom (or top). If you wish to start over, click on the "Clear All" button. Once you have checked those animals you wish to have listed, click on "Create Field Guide".

Please see the separate section, About Maps, for a discussion about species distribution maps and the use of GIS.

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Other Educational Web Sites

Users of this Web site may enjoy the other educational natural history Web sites developed by the National Museum of Natural History.

Lewis & Clark as Naturalists:
eMammal: or
on Facebook at:

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Robert Costello - Alfred Rosenberger

This site is based on The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals, by Don E. Wilson and Sue Ruff (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999), Mammals of North America, by Roland W. Kays and Don E. Wilson (Princeton University Press, 2002) and Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), by Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors)(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005).

Many have contributed material and information for this site. Special thanks to Drs. Don Wilson, Robert Hoffmann, Kristofer Helgren, and others in the Division of Mammals, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution; Sue Ruff, for superbly editing text and arbitrating taxonomic issues; Dr. Roland Kays, Director, Biodiversity and Earth Observation Lab, Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences,for providing field guide paintings and maps; Dr. Wes Sechrest, Global Wildlife Conservationfor creating and sharing the initial biogeographic distribution maps; Gabriela Karam Gutiérrez, Chief Translator;Douglas Keinath, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, University of Wyoming for the initial Thomomys clusius range map; Dr. Daryl Boness, Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution; Dr. Alicia V. Linzey, Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, for her illustrations; American Society of Mammalogists; the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Version 2013.1 for conservation status of species and earlier versions (2010 to 2012) for marine mammal and several other distribution maps; NatureServe for most land mammal distribution maps; Harcourt College Publishing; Princeton University Press; Weldon Owen, Inc; and to a number of volunteers, including Emily and Melanie Rosenberger, Frances Pitlick, Anne Goldfein, Lara Goeke, Brooke Cain, Michele Delvoie, Michael Schoen, Daniel Dancis and Reid Rumelt for research, graphics assistance, proofing, beta-testing and many other assorted activities that go into development and publication of a web site.

Web Site Development/Design

We greatly appreciate your interest and welcome comments and concerns. Direct comments to

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