The Comparative Osteology collection is a teaching and interpretive resource, containing over 2500 bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, and fish skeletal specimens. The collection is used for teaching comparative osteology, archaeology and zoology classes at IMNH and ISU. It is also a reference collection for paleontologists, archaeologists, and forensic wildlife agencies.
Most specimens in the collection are from Idaho and the Intermountain West, but include some exotic specimens from zoos, including an elephant, camel, and giraffe. The collection also holds some pathological conditions and genetic anomalies which are of use to researchers studying the effects of nutrition, disease, and genetics on ancient and modern populations.