It's not unusual for Tom Pauley to find jars filled with reptiles and amphibians he helped contribute to Marshall University's 15,000-specimen herpetology collection. Pauley, now retired from his teaching job at Marshall, serves as the collection's curator. His current project is to transform the 107-year-old collection into an efficient research tool.
A good chunk of Pauley's time has been spent transferring the information for 15,000 specimens from old, yellowed, handwritten notebooks to a computer database complete with GPS coordinates for the specimens' original collection sites.
A jar that houses a few leopard frogs is fairly typical of the collection, although specimens are also stored in vials and, in the case of turtles, in large steel tanks.
A blue tub filled with tiny specimens serves as a constant reminder that hundreds of creatures in the Marshall collection still must be identified and cataloged.