The department of vertebrate zoology encompasses all animals with backbones: fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
The oldest specimens date back to the 1840s, but most activity associated with vertebrates started in the 1870s. With the exception of the bird collection and a portion of the fish collection, vertebrates are housed on the Sixth Floor of the Museum. Besides collection areas, a lab area for specimen processing and examination is situated adjacent to the herpetology range. All of the collections in the department have been computerized.