A stunning array of wildlife is displayed in the
main gallery of BYU's Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. But it's only
the tip of the iceberg compared to what's below the surface.
When each of the
200,000 annual visitors passes through the main entrance of the Monte L.
Bean Life Science Museum, the first thing they notice is the colossal
African elephant in the center atrium. It is surrounded by stunning
displays of large mammals, waterfowl, and pheasants. But these
displays—with more than 500 mounted specimens—are a small fraction of
the vast collections housed in the museum.
Tips of the Iceberg
Waterfowl & Pheasant Collection
(Donated by Fred and Sue Morris
Like an iceberg,
there's more below the surface than visible at the top. "For each
natural history specimen displayed," said museum director Duane Smith,
"there are more than 10,000 other specimens—a total of 2.8 million in
all. Normally not open to the public, these extensive collections
create numerous mentored research opportunities for a vast number of
student and faculty researchers at the university. Here, they study and
preserve the evolutionary history of major components of the earth's
Fred & Sue Morris
Fred Morris was raised in Provo, Utah. He earned a B.S. degree
from BYU and a M.S. degree in history from the University of
Southern Mississippi. He built a successful real estate development
business. He married Sue Elton from Mammoth, Utah.
They are parents of three children. Having traveled to 150 countries,
Fred and Sue are accomplished citizens of the world. They
share a fervent love for wildlife and the outdoors. They donated their magnificent
collection so that all who see it might enjoy, learn, and be edified.
The world's most
complete collection of waterfowl and pheasants—330 specimens—was
donated by wildlife enthusiasts Fred and Sue Morris of Salt Lake City,
Utah. Of 211 known waterfowl and pheasant species, 189 are represented
in the display.
The gallery features
many endangered species, from the Hawaiian Duck to the Congo Peacock.
All specimens were obtained from bird farms and live collections
involved in the conservation of endangered species.
"We actually had to
wait for many species to die of natural causes," said Skip Skidmore,
vertebrate collection manager. "Eventually, we hope to have all the
world's waterfowl and pheasant species in the display."
The Mammal Collection
Donald G. Cox was raised in Detroit, Michigan. He married Barbara Walkowiak,
also from Detroit. They have three children. He is a chemical engineer
Specialty Steel Treating in Michigan. Cox has been a
enthusiast for nearly 60 years. His sheep collection ranges
to Iran, Nepal, and Russia. He has funded extensive
scientific work to
help prove the true taxonomy of the world's wild sheep. He
into the Safari Club Hall of Fame and has won several
awards. Collections and Numbers of Specimens Reptiles,
Mollusks Herbaria Anthropods Birds Mammals 8 BYU BioAg
Throughout the museum
is a wide variety of large mammal trophies from the Don Cox Collection.
It includes the most extensive live mounted sheep collection in the
But the collection
includes much more than sheep. It contains more than 250 mounted
specimens from four continents. Most of the African species are
represented, including lion, rhinoceros, cape buffalo, and leopard,
plus the small dikers and elusive bongo. It also includes the big game
species of North America including a wolf, cougar, and bears. Russia is
represented by bears and the "Alf" looking Saiga antelope. Cox's
middle-eastern Ibex collection is also impressive. Cox donated his
magnificent collection so it could be used for education and research.
Much of the research at
the museum includes mentoring of undergraduates. "Each collection is
overseen by a curator, who is also a BYU professor in the department of
integrative biology," said Doug Cox, assistant director. "They
incorporate knowledge from their research into classroom teaching and
the museum's public displays." One such professor is Jack Sites,
professor of integrative biology and curator for 37,000 reptiles and
Hart is working with the Great Basin National Park on a kingsnake
study," said Sites. "All relevant specimens in our collection must be
examined, and we must borrow hundreds of snakes from at least five
other collections. This may turn into a nice publication on which
Shelly would be a co-author." Students also helped catalog new
specimens (nearly 700 new reptiles were added last year).