Chicago Field Museum - Dermestes maculatus 

The FM has a great system setup for their dermestid colony.  They have multiple individual tanks (I think 9 in all) in which skeletal remains are processed.  Everything is organized in metal trays so the beetles can easily move between specimens, unlike our museum where we use porcelain dishes that the beetles have a difficult time climbing up, and as a result we have to create bridges between each tray, which can be inefficient.  As the beetles live and die in the Field Museum’s colonies the wire grates are moved up on top of the frass and dead beetles until they reach the top of the tank, at which time the tanks can be cleaned out and reused.  Our system here in Montana is not so organized, resulting in specimens getting buried in the bottom of our colony, sometimes for months or years.  I will definitely be taking what I learned in their dermestid room and applying the system where I can  in the UMZM! 


  • A bird skeleton after freezing off straggler beetles in the freezer
  • The gorilla’s foot - by the way, it is possible that individual was suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that is genetic in humans. 
  • A small bird (did not get the ID) and Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)