Smithsonian-Harvard Expedition to the Altai Mountains, 1912

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The expedition was a joint effort of the United States National Museum and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard during the summer of 1912, to study sheep, ibex, and other large game in the Altai Mountains of the Russian and Mongolian region of Asia. The collection of small vertebrate animals, including birds, was also an important goal on the expedition. In total, around 350 mammal specimens were collected. The group departed St. Petersburg on June 8th and headed east. In total, the trip lasted four months and continually faced harsh weather conditions throughout the mountains. The long journey to the “scene of operations” resulted in only around thirty-five days of actual collecting. However, during the expedition an important collection of mammals was made, including thirteen new species and subspecies, along with others previously unrepresented in American museums. The expedition’s routes followed that of the Demidoff and Swayne’s "sporting" expeditions from 1900-1904. This included embarking Novonikolaevsk aboard a steamer on the Obi River, reaching Biisk, Kosh-Agatch, and the Chuisaya Steppe of Mongolia. Participants in the expedition included Ned Hollister (Assistant Curator, U.S. National Museum), and Dr. Theodore Lyman (Harvard University), Conrad Kain (Hollister’s assistant), a Russian interpreter, and four native Tartars and Kalmuks.


  • Osgood, W. H. (1925). Ned Hollister: Born Hovember 26, 1876-died November 3, 1924. (1925). Journal of Mammalogy, 6(1), 1-12.
  • Hollister, N. (1925). Mammals collected by the Smithsonian-Harvard expedition to the Altai Mountains, 1912. (1925). Proceedings of The United States National Museum, 45, 507-532.

Date Range

1912 - 1912


  • Animals
  • Zoology
  • Birds
  • Ornithology


  • Mongolia
  • Altai
  • Novosibirsk
  • Saint Petersburg
  • Obsha


Expedition name