Monday, November 19, 2012

Herp Club Philadelphia Trip, Fall 2012

This year, the Herp Club ventured to the Philadelphia (PA) area for the fall field trip. The overnight trip involved a visit to the Philadelphia zoo, as well as the Bauer and Jackman labs at Villanova University.

The first part of the trip was to the Philadelphia zoo, where we met up with Jason Bell, Assistant Curator of Reptile and Amphibians. We were then given a personal behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo's herps. Mr. Bell showed us not only the astonishing variety of animals that they housed, but also taught us about the various projects that they were involved in. It was great to hear about all of the success they had in various breeding and conservation projects. After the tour, we explored the rest of the zoo and saw some pretty awesome animals.

One of the most memorable portions of the trip, was our personal encounter with some Aldabra and Galapagos Tortoises. We had the pleasure of directly interacting with these animals (often considered the 2 largest species of tortoise):

Aldabra Tortoise, Aldabrachelys gigantea, named "Bubba," 
in hot pursuit of CHS President Brian Worthington
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
Galapagos Tortoise, Chelonidis nigra
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle

There were plenty of other cool herps as well:

Green Anaconda, Eunectes murinus
Photo Courtesy of Maria Smith
Timber Rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
Eyelash Viper, Bothriechis schlegelii, with a Poison Dart Frog,  Dentrobatidae, on its back
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
Pig-nosed Turtle, Carettochelys insculpta
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
Alligator Snapping Turtle, Macrochelys teminckii
which wait at the bottom of bodies of water and
wiggle their tongue to simulate worms to lure prey.
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
 Ribbed Newt, Pleurodeles waltl, has a unique defense mechanism where
it is able to protrude its ribs through its skin, stabbing the aggressor.
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Tingle
Chinese Crocodile Lizard, Shinisaurus crocodilurus
Photo Courtesy of Brian Worthington
Chinese Alligator, Alligator sinensis
Photo Courtesy of Brian Worthington

After the trip to the zoo, we had the pleasure of seeing the Bauer and Jackman Labs at Villanova University. We learned of the projects that Aaron Bauer was involved in, especially with New Caledonian geckos. As well, we heard of Todd Jackman's work with the phylogeny of reptiles. During the day we also were able to handle the world's largest gecko species, the New Caledonian Giant Gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus.) All in all, it was a great trip.

For more information about where we visited:
Philadelphia Zoo
Jackman Lab
Bauer lab

Post by Joey Chase

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