By Alan M. Rulis
The Collections Highlights series profiles notable fossil collections curated and housed in the Department of Paleobiology. Alan Rulis is a volunteer assisting Conrad Labandeira, Curator of Fossil Arthropods.
This remarkable collection was assembled by amber dealer Major Jacob (“Jake”) Brodzinsky, U.S. Army, retired, and his wife, Marianella Lopez-Peña, both of whom had been collecting and living in Santo Domingo. Initially acquired by the department of Entomology between 1981 and 1985, it was moved to the Department of Paleobiology in the 1990s. The collection is available for scientific study; researchers can work with the entire collection on site, and individual specimens have been loaned to researchers worldwide. Most recently, specimens from the collection have been loaned for detailed examination by two researchers. Dr. Ralph Harbach at the Natural History Museum, London, and a world expert on the taxonomy of mosquitoes is using X-ray tomography for state-of-the-art imaging and taxonomic identification of a number of mosquitos from the collection. Dr. Elijah Talamas, of the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and currently detailed to the Department of Entomology, is examining the collection’s parasitoid wasps for taxonomic validation and verification for a USDA project. A future post will report on the progress of these efforts.
The Brodzinsky Lopez-Peña Amber Collection is under the management of the Department’s collections manager, Kathy Hollis, and overseen by curator Conrad Labandeira.
Read a 1989 article written by NMNH entomologist Don. R. Davis about the amber collection and its history.