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The Burden East Indian Expedition

Identifier: Film Collection no. 20

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Burden East Indian Expedition to Malaysia, 1926. William Douglas Burden, AMNH trustee, his wife Katharine, and a small expedition team traveled to the East Indies to study the fauna of the region, and especially to film and capture the rare lizards Varanus komodoensis found on Komodo Island, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. These lizards are commonly known as "Komodo dragons," and can grow to a length of ten feet and weigh up to 250 pounds. The film begins with the arrival of the expedition on the S.S. Dog on Komodo, and shows a spider and its prey in a web, a centipede, a lizard, snakes, and deer, as well as the establishment of the expedition campsite. The main sequences, which were filmed from blinds, depict the dragons eating the bait set out for them, their generally slow behavior and the capture of a live specimen in an elaborate spring-pole trap. A scene of the dragons devouring a wild boar was reproduced in the AMNH Hall of Amphibians and Reptiles with specimens collected by the Burdens.


  • 1926


Language of Materials



1 Film Reel (12 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 35 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (12 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Original format: 35 mm. negative; incomplete.


Burden, W. Douglas Dragon Lizards of Komodo. New York: Putnam, 1927. Burden, Douglas. The Quest for the Dragon of Komodo. Natural History, v. 27, no. 1, Jan.-Feb., 1927: 3-18.


Lee Fai and Katharine Burden, photographers.

The Burden East Indian Expedition, 1926
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Research Library Special Collections Repository

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