Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians
The Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians explores the anatomy, defense, locomotion, distribution, reproduction, and feeding habits of reptiles and amphibians. Amphibians were the first vertebrates to live on land and are the group from which mammals and reptiles, including birds, evolved.
A great range of these animals’ physical forms is on view, from the tiny Cuban frog to the goliath frog and the Japanese giant salamander, the Galápagos giant tortoise to the powerful crocodile, accompanied by explanations of the widely diverse ways in which they move, protect themselves, chase prey, and reproduce.
Exhibits include the leatherback sea turtle laying eggs in its nest, the Australian frilled lizard raising its frill of skin to exaggerate its size to a predator, and the endangered Komodo dragon stretching its jaws across the belly of a wild boar. Although now bred in captivity, the Komodo dragons’ continued existence in the wild depends on the maintenance of their native habitat. Also on view in the hall are modern crocodiles and alligators, whose ancestors survived the mass extinction 65 million years ago.
Toxic alkaloids, including deadly toxins secreted by the poison dart frog, may have unique implications for the treatment of neurological and muscular disorders.
Modern crocodiles and alligators have been traced back to ancestors that survived the mass extinction of all nonavian dinosaurs.
The huge Galápagos tortoise was once so plentiful that ships loaded up on as many as 700 live animals; a single tortoise could provide 200 pounds of meat.
At 10 feet and 200 pounds, the Komodo dragon is the world's biggest and most powerful lizard alive. Komodo dragons attack deer, goats, pigs, dogs, and occasionally humans.