Scaly surprises: go behind the scenes of a museum exhibition to learn about scaly lizards and snakes.Darrel Frost has an animal-friendly office at the American Museum of Natural History American Museum of Natural History, incorporated in New York City in 1869 to promote the study of natural science and related subjects. Buildings on its present site were opened in 1877. in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . In one section of his office, the walls are lined with terraria holding lizards and snakes.
Frost walks over to one of the glass enclosures and scoops out a snake with orange banding decorating its body. When this Grey-Banded Kingsnake The green-banded kingsnake, (Lampropeltis alterna), or more commonly just referred to as the alterna, is a species of non-venomous colubrid snake, found in the Trans-Pecos/Chihuahuan Desert region of western Texas, southern New Mexico, and northern Chihuahua. lifts its head, milky blue eyes Blue eyes are eyes that have blue irises (see eye color), and may also refer to:
Most distant from the center or inside; outmost.
furthest from the centre or middle
Adj. 1. layer of skin covering the eyes will peel off.
This snake is one species within the group of organisms called Squamata (skwah-MAH-tah). "Squamates" is the name for lizards--including snakes and limbless lizards. Frost has been interested in squamates since he was a kid. Now, as a curator at the museum, Frost hopes to better educate people about these diverse organisms. That's why he's so excited about the museum's upcoming exhibition that stars lizards.
From projectile projectile
something thrown forward.
see blow dart.
forceful vomiting, usually without preceding retching, in which the vomitus is thrown well forward. tongues to heat-sensing vision, squamates' amazing abilities are bound to wow visitors to the museum. Check out Science World's behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the animals that Frost is gathering for the exhibition.
What are some characteristics of squamates?
Squamates are vertebrates (organisms with a backbone) that don't have bodily processes for controlling their internal temperature. Instead, these ectotherms keep a healthy body temperature by moving between colder and warmer areas. For instance, a lizard might seek out the cool shade of a tree or the warmth of a sun-drenched log. Also, squamates have scaly scal·y
1. Covered or partially covered with scales.
2. Shedding scales or flakes; flaking.
skin condition characterized by scales; scalelike. skin. When these animals molt, they shed the outermost layer of this skin at one time.
How did you become interested in squamates?
I grew up in southern Arizona Southern Arizona is a region of the United States. It is the southernmost portion of the 48th state, Arizona. Southern Arizona's boundaries are not well defined, but certainly include all of present-day Cochise County, Pima County, Graham County, and Santa Cruz County. , where there are many kinds of snakes and other lizards. So I've always been curious about them. All through my teenage years I read everything I could on these creatures. At the time, I never thought studying these amazing animals could become my job. Finally, it did--at a museum.
As a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, what are your days like?
Part of my time is spent looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. new species of lizards and snakes in regions of Africa The continent of Africa can be conceptually subdivided into a number of regions or subregions. Directional approach
One common approach categorises Africa directionally, e.g. , Asia, and the Americas. I also oversee the museum's herpetology collections, which include amphibians amphibians
members of the animal class Amphibia. Includes frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and cecilians all capable of living on land or in water. and reptiles, such as squamates. And I have the opportunity to educate the public about these creatures through exhibitions, like the upcoming show on lizards.
What makes this exhibition so interesting?
The exhibition will highlight the diversity of the world's nearly 8,000 species of squamates. For instance, the smallest squamate--a dwarf gecko--can fit all four of its feet onto a dime. And the largest squamate--an anaconda Anaconda, city, United States
Anaconda (ănəkŏn`də), city (1990 pop. 10,278), seat of Deer Lodge co., SW Mont.; inc. 1887. snake--can grow to a length of more than 10 meters (33 feet).
To show this diversity, the exhibition will include fossils and life-size models of squamates, as well as live animals.
How did you decide which animals to put in the exhibition?
The animals will be on exhibit for several months. So we could exhibit only animals that are hardy in captivity. Among these, I selected a range of different animals--I assembled a variety that would give visitors a sense of how squamates have evolved and become more diverse.
Many of the adaptations that squamates have developed are associated with feeding behaviors. When visitors walk through the exhibition hall, they will notice two distinct feeding behaviors: One group of squamates-called "sight hounds"--hunt by sight. Another group--called "nose hounds"--hunt through other sensory mechanisms.
Would you give an example of a sight hound and a nose hound?
One sight hound, the chameleon, uses its excellent vision to spot prey. Then, like other sight hounds, the chameleon grabs the prey with its tongue. The tip of the chameleon's tongue is extremely pliable and is covered with fluid. So when it projects its tongue--which can extend the length of its body--the tip sticks to its prey. When the chameleon pulls its tongue back in, the prey comes with it.
In contrast, snakes and monitor lizards have hard and deeply forked tongues, which are used to "sniff out" chemicals left by other animals. When you see a snake flicking its tongue out of its mouth, the snake is collecting scent particles from the environment. When the snake brings its tongue back into its mouth, these particles get transferred to two pits called olfactory olfactory /ol·fac·to·ry/ (ol-fak´ter-e) pertaining to the sense of smell.
Of, relating to, or contributing to the sense of smell. (related to smell) organs, which are located at the roof of the mouth. These pits can tell whether the scent particles are from prey, an enemy, or other object. Once the snake has zeroed in on its prey, it lunges forward and grabs the prey with its sharp teeth.
What are some other adaptations of squamates?
Squamates use many strategies to avoid being eaten. For instance, most lizards are colored to match their environment. This helps to hide them from hungry predators.
Many other squamates, including several in the exhibition, simply flee as quickly as they can from predators. For example, the Basilisk basilisk: see iguana.
monstrous reptile; has fatal breath and glance. [Gk. Folklore: Jobes, 184]
See : Deadliness
lizard supposed to kill with its gaze. [Gk. Myth. Lizard is famous for its bipedal bipedal adjective Capable of locomotion on 2 feet (two-footed) flight across water, which is made possible in part by fringes on the hind toes.
The flying gecko gecko (gĕk`ō), small or medium-sized lizard of the family Gekkonidae. The more than 300 species are distributed throughout the warm regions of the world, mostly in the Old World. Despite folklore to the contrary, their bite is not poisonous. has webbed feet and flaps of skin that extend along its body. When this gecko spreads the flaps open like a parachute, it can glide in the air from tree to tree--and escape enemies.
What are some live animals that will be on exhibit?
We will have many live snakes, including vipers and tree boas. Tree boas are interesting because they possess heat-sensing pits in their lips. The pits let the snakes "see" the heat around potential prey. This allows them to more accurately direct strikes, even in the dark.
What part of the exhibition brings out the "kid" in you?
I'm excited to see a lot of really cool-looking squamates gathered in one place. For example, there's going to be a Veiled Chameleon on exhibit. Its bright-green color and the helmet-like ridge on its head will definitely draw a crowd. Visitors will also get to see a 14-kilogram (30-pound) monitor lizard. The exhibition gives me the same sense of wonder as when I was a kid, looking at rattlesnakes in southern Arizona.
Check it Out:
More than 60 colorful live lizards, including snakes, will captivate visitors in a new exhibition opening in summer 2006 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The exhibition explores these creatures' remarkable adaptations, including projectile tongues, deadly venom, and sometimes surprising modes of movement. The Museum has been researching and celebrating the natural world for more than 135 years and has more than 30 million objects in its extensive research collection. The Museum's 200 scientists travel around the world on 100 field expeditions each year, studying everything from lizards to leeches to the universe.
Nuts & Bolts
Unlike humans, who constantly shed worn-out skin as tiny flakes, snakes and lizards periodically molt, or shed the outermost layer of their scaly skin all at once. Scientists have many unanswered questions about the molting process. But they do know that as a snake prepares to molt, its head first fills with blood. When the animal's head is swollen with blood, it scrapes its lips against a hard surface. As the animal scratches itself against the surface, the soft layer of skin folds back over its head. The snake crawls forward, leaving behind a tube of dead skin.
DID YOU KNOW?
* Squamates are the second largest group of terrestrial vertebrates after birds. They can be found on all continents except Antarctica.
* There are only two lizard species that are venomous venomous
secreting poison; poisonous. : the Gila monster gila monster (hē`lə), venomous lizard, Heloderma suspectum, found in the deserts of the SW United States and NW Mexico. It averages 18 in. and the Mexican beaded lizard. These lizards secrete secrete /se·crete/ (se-kret´) to elaborate and release a secretion.
To generate and separate a substance from cells or bodily fluids. venom from saliva glands located in their jaws.
* What makes a museum exhibition a success? Hint: Think about exhibitions that you have enjoyed. What kinds of displays or components made these shows stand out for you?
GEOGRAPHY: Do research and choose five different squamate squa·ma
n. pl. squa·mae
1. A scale or scalelike structure.
2. A thin platelike mass, as of bone.
[Latin squ species. Then, draw a world map that shows the habitat range of each of the species.
RESOURCES * You'll find a role-playing game that helps students learn about lizard behavior at: http://tolweb.org/treehouses/?treehouse_id=2488
* At this Web site, learn about some of the defense mechanisms used by lizards: http://animal.discovery.com/convergence/lizards/blood/blood.html
* For information about careers in herpetology, visit this Web site of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles: www.ssarherps.org/pages/career.php