There are over 24,000 specimens in this collection, including skulls, skins, skeletons, spirit specimens, photographs and frozen tissue. It includes over 1600 marine mammals and its comprehensiveness makes this collection the best of its kind in Australia. Other strengths of the collection include South Australian arid zone native mammals, many specimens of extinct species such as the thylacine and large numbers of bat species.
The collection has also historical importance as it includes many specimens from early expeditions in Australia and to the subantarctic Islands and Antarctica. Well-known people such as Sir Douglas Mawson, Edgar R. Waite and Hedley Finlayson have contributed to the collection.
The mammal collection includes sub-fossils and remains from owl pellets. This collection consists entirely of Australian material with 20000 – 25000 specimens covering 76 mammal species (including introduced species). The collection is made up of bulk bone deposits from the floor of caves, bones excavated from sinkholes, bones extracted from predator scats (eg. dingoes, foxes and Ghost Bats), pellets from birds of prey, particularly barn owls (both recent and pre-settlement material), and stick nest rat nests and middens. The sub-fossil collection is the second best of its kind in Australia.
The SA Museum manages this dataset using the KE EMu collection management system. It is interpreted into the Darwin Core metadata schema (DwC) and semi-regularly exported to the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA: http://www.ala.org.au/) and the Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums (OZCAM: http://www.ozcam.org.au/). Information about Darwin Core can be found here: http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/index.htm. Data sourced from Australian museums on both the ALA and OZCAM should be identical, but on ALA they are combined with observational data from citizen science initiatives and other sources.
Both of those sites make it possible to combine, interrogate and analyse data through web services such as the Spatial Analysis Portal (http://spatial.ala.org.au/). In the Spatial Portal ALA data can be combined with meteorological and other environmental data sourced from and made accessible by relevant government agencies.
Data about endangered species are either withheld from online publication, or coordinates or other data are obscured on the ALA and OZCAM. In those circumstances more specific information is available directly from SA Museum collection managers if it is genuinely required for research purposes.
SA Museum data can be downloaded in full from the Atlas of Living Australia, or broken down into discipline specific parts (e.g. Herpetology, Mammalogy etc). On download the ALA will request an email address (not mandatory) and a reason for download (mandatory) – this is required to track usage of the ALA data to help data providers determine priorities for upload and improvement.