50,000 Creatures Delivered to UT Arlington

Two North Texas research centers got a special delivery Tuesday - hundreds of thousands of plants, lizards and snakes in the name of science.

Local researchers are using the past to understand the present. Thanks to a big shipment from the University of Louisiana-Monroe, they’re better able to study why certain species survive, while others decline.

ULM transferred more than 50,000 preserved reptiles and amphibians from 90 countries to the University of Texas at Arlington.

Herpetology Collections Manager, Carl Franklin, unpacked the jars.

“This one right here is kind of old. It's from '61, but this one was collected in 1907,” Franklin said, looking at a 110-year-old salamander.

While most people see dead lizards, he sees a priceless resource for science.

“With a series of specimens like this, you can learn a lot,” Franklin said.

Creatures weren’t the only delivery. Fort Worth also got 470,000 dry plants.

When ULM said it could no longer maintain its extensive collection, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas jumped at the chance to take it.

“These are very, very important collections to retain. It's basic information about the state's flora,” said BRIT Herbarium Director, Peter Fritsch.

The plants come from several states. They’re labeled in folders from which researchers can pull DNA.

Getting them here was no easy task.

The president of Seville Farms, Billy Brentlinger, is also a BRIT board member. He helped organize the transfer.

“Promoting awareness of how plants affect your life day-to-day really fits well with our company,” Brentlinger said.

They froze trucks to negative 20 degrees for two weeks to destroy insects.

All involved in the effort said it's worth it to see some specimens come home and decades of history saved for the future.

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