The mastozoological collection has approximately 50,000 specimens. Its geographic coverage extends throughout Brazil, and all recent taxonomic groups are represented. Among the highlights are the fauna series from southeastern Brazil and the Amazonian assemblages collected by the naturalist Alonso Olalla since the 1930s.
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The mastozoological collection of the Museu de Zoologia of USP originated, along with most of its other collections, in the foundation of the Museu Paulista in 1895. The MZUSP mammal collection was initiated by the first director of the Museu Paulista, the German naturalist Hermann von Ihering, who even published a list of mammals of the State of São Paulo, requesting specimen contributions from readers. The first specimens of the collection, listed in 1895 and from there until the beginning of the 20th century, were prepared to be exposed to the public, so they were worn out over time and discarded. Few 19th century specimens still persist. Many of the Museu Paulista’s collections did not have exclusive curators at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1930s, during Dr. Olivério Mário de Oliveira Pinto’s administration, Mastozoology had its first effective curator, Dr. Carlos Octaviano da Cunha Vieira, who remained in office until his death in 1958. Carlos Vieira’s arrival at the Museum’s Mastozoology coincided approximately with the transfer of the facilities to the current building, then the Department of Zoology of the State of São Paulo’s Office of Agriculture. Vieira was responsible for the collection’s modernization and started to publish taxonomic synopses of the main collection expeditions carried out by the Museum, having also published a series of monographic works on Brazilian bats, and other groups of mammals from São Paulo, such as primates, carnivores, xenarthros, marsupials, and rodents. These successive catalogs led him to compile material for his greatest work, a catalog of Brazilian mammals. His other legacy was the collection’s expressive growth, which went from some 2000 specimens to over 15,000. In 1960 and 1961, Dr. Cory Carvalho worked at the Museum’s Mastozoology, but he transferred to the Forestry Institute and the collection remained without an exclusive curator until 1999, when Mario de Vivo, who retired in 2017, took over.
Currently, MZUSP does not have a curator specialized in the group, but the collection continues to grow and is studied by several Brazilian and foreign researchers, who visit the collection and/or receive material as a loan.