Dawson caribou type

Thu Jan 4 10:44:48 CST 1996

As the mammal curator responsible for the mammal collection at the Royal
British Columbia Museum, I have to set the record straight on the recent
message on the Dawson caribou type sent by A. Ceska.
    The display used educational mounts of woodland caribou that were
mounted years ago by a taxidermist for an intended diorama. Although I have
some concerns about the content of the display and I suspect there will be
considerable debate when the display is finished, it is certainly
appropriate to use taxidermy mounts for educational exhibits.
    The Dawson caribou (Rangifer tarandus dawsoni) is an endemic subspecies
(not species) now extinct. The RBCM has 6 specimens, the only scientific
specimens that exist for this taxon. They include several skull fragments, a
shed antler, several pelts, and a full taxidermy mount. The type specimen
is a cranial fragment with partial antler that is housed in our locked
type specimen case. It would not be used in a display. We also have a full
mount of the Dawson caribou, it is catalogued as a research specimen and
housed in our refigerated fur vault. It was exhibited years ago at the
museum. Mounted specimens with scientific value have always been a dilema for
mammal curators. My feeling is that the Dawson mount would only be used again
in display if it were housed in a permanent case or diorama that meets strict
conservation standards.

Dave Nagorsen

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