1927 - present
While awaiting the construction of a new wing, the reptile and amphibian collections were displayed in smaller sections, first in the same hall as Mammals of the Polar Regions (Floor 2, Section 5) circa 1911 and then in the south pavilion of the second floor (Floor 2, Section 2) with other exhibits awaiting permanent homes (1, 1911, p. 35; 1, 1913, p. 43). Exhibits at this time, circa 1911-1923, included specimens cast in wax from life, including a star tortoise, Pickering's hyla, and common newt, and habitat groups in the center of the hall, which included tuberculated iguana, water moccasin, diamond-backed rattlesnake, Texas rattlesnake, copperhead from New York, Gila monster, pine snake, box tortoise, common painted turtle, cobra from India, bullfrog from North America, lily pond, salamander from Pennsylvania, toad from New England, lower California lizards, and the Florida Group, which included alligators, snakes, and turtles (1, 1919, p. 37-41).
The new hall opened in June 1927. New exhibits, including new habitat groups, were planned for the third floor space in a new wing. New habitat groups included the Komodo Dragon Group, Rhinoceros Iguana Group from Haiti, Jamaica Iguana Group, Dominican Spike-tailed Iguana Group, Marine Iguanas Group from the Galapagos, Sphenodon Group, Giant Tree Frog Group from Haiti, and Great Salamander Group (2, 1922, p. 82-84; 1, 1928, p. 89). The Leatherback Turtle Group was added by 1953 (1, 1953, p. 102). "Synthetic" groups shown together for comparison but not necessarily found together in nature included the Florida and New England Groups (1, 1928, p. 89). The habitats in the new hall were placed in a "cloister" section of the hall, which included a series of murals by museum artists including Francis Lee Jaques (2, 1926, p. 54).
The hall included a systematic series with characteristic examples of frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, and turtles. Other exhibits included amphibians and reptiles found with fifty miles of New York City, specimens of turtles, alligators, and crocodiles, exhibits on anatomy of reptiles, the influence of their environments, feeding habits, life cycles (1, 1928, p. 89), snake poison and treatment, reptile skeletons, snake yarns, self-protection, economic value of reptiles and amphibians (1, 1931, p. 87). Sunken cases presented Natural Selection: The Directing Principal of Evolution; Isolation: A Major Factor in the Origin of the Species; Concealing, Coloration, and Form; Parallel Evolution (1, 1931, p. 89); Adaptation; Adaptive Radiation; Parental Care, and Attracting or Frightening Devices (1, 1953, p. 102); Snakes of Fable and Fact (1, 1953, p. 101).
The hall was under construction from 1969-1977, reopening in November 1977. The new design, which is current as of 2017, features floating cases in two rows, one for reptiles and the other for amphibians, with exhibits covering relationships, habitats, life histories, faculties, and adaptation of various cold-blooded vertebrates. Full-sized habitat groups include Komodo dragons feeding on wild boar, a reticulated python readying to pounce, and leatherback sea turtles laying eggs. At the entrance to the hall visitors are greeted by specimens of a Galapagos turtle, an alligator, and a crocodile (3, 1984, p. 27).
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