Zooarchaeologyat the University of Oregon


Archaeological materials laid out in Room 264, Condon Hall, home of the UO Department of Anthropology North Pacific Faunal Collection. Photograph by M. Moss, July, 1997.

Zooarchaeology Lab

The Zooarchaerology lab is located on the University of Oregon campus in room 264 of Condon Hall. The lab is host to several ongoing projects and houses a comparative faunal collection. The lab is directed by Dr. Madonna L. Moss who is in charge of the North Pacific Collections. Other faculty and staff members conduct research in the facility, having access to the comparative collection and given space to study various faunal materials.

Dr. Moss started the North Pacific collection in the 1980s, and brought it to the UO in 1990. The collection has grown over the years. We hold collecting permits from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices in Alaska and Oregon to authorize salvage of animal carcasses in these areas.

A number of the carcasses in the collection came from animals who were casualties of the Exxon Oil Spill in 1990. Other specimens in the comparative collection were received via donations from Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, Oregon State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Chintinimi Wildife Refuge, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Friday Harbor Whale Museum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish & Wildlife Forensics Lab, and private individuals (see Acknowledgments).


Madonna Moss working with collection of bird specimens at the UO Department of Anthropology North Pacific Faunal Collection. Photograph by J. Erlandson, November, 1998.

The comparative collection is organized into the cabinets the line the walls of the lab. The drawers contain faunal material ranging from fish vertebra to badger skulls. The material is compiled in order to help researchers compare unidentified faunal remains to specimens preserved in the lab's collection.

Faunal material and specimens are brought back to the lab for analysis. Several people may participate on each project. Both professors and graduate students supervise undergraduate students in the lab, who are involved in helping to analyze and catalog faunal material. The students work as part of the Participatory Learning Experience program, through the Anthropology department, where they get hands-on experience on several projects.

The students work on projects ranging from sorting shell to analyzing bone, to preparing specimens for the comparative collection.

Aside from use by University of Oregon staff, the lab also serves the greater academic community, as the comparative collection may be used to help others identify material.

Copyright 2009 Madonna Moss and Aaron Blackwell