14 Photos of Whale Bones (and more!) from the AMNH's Mammalogy Department

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy / Erin McCarthy

After getting a sneak peek of the American Museum of Natural History's latest exhibition, Whales: Giants of the Deep, which opens on March 22 (more on that later this week), we went behind the scenes to check out the institution's whale collections in its Mammalogy Department. While it's not the largest whale collection, it is diverse, with 380 specimens of 57 species. We took photos so you can feel like you were there, too.

The collection's specimens are housed on shelves that are opened and closed via hand crank.

Here's how the collection manager knows what's in a given row.

Gray whale vertebrae, collected off the coast of Russia.

More vertebrae.

The bones of a flipper of the largest specimen of a North Atlantic Right Whale ever collected. It was female, and collected by museum explorer Roy Chapman Andrews on Long Island.

More bones from that whale.

Bones from a blue whale, collected in Japan.

Narwhal bones in boxes.

This specimen, collected in 1940, is the skull of an Atlantic Humpback Dolphin, a very endangered, shy species.

Here's a close up look at its tag.

The most prominent skull in this photo belongs to a killer whale.

Toothed whale skulls galore.

And to close it out, some random bones from the toothed whale aisle.