A workspace in the Birds Division of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Clockwise from upper left: a bird nest, bird skeleton, unidentified parrot and specimen storage boxes.
As biologists describe new species and add to our understanding of the interrelated nature of life on Earth, a species becomes extinct every 20 minutes (100 to 1000 times the background extinction rate as seen in the fossil record). Collections in natural history museums play important roles in conservation, education and research. Most of that work and the associated specimens are not on public display in museumsÃ¢€š typically, less than five percent of specimens are exhibited.