REPTILES! San Diego Natural History Museum

This exhibition closed September 7, 1998.

Exhibit Overview

A Basilisk lizard can run on water. A sea turtle will swim thousands of miles to lay eggs at its place of birth. An African Python can eat a 100 pound antelope. If your first reaction is to shriek "Reptiles! EEK!," resist the urge and listen, interact and wonder. You may find yourself saying,"Reptiles! WOW!".

That's the message of "REPTILES," an exhibition designed by Museum staff which will make its international premiere here, February 21 through September 7. The staff designed the traveling exhibit "REPTILES!" with Kokoro, Inc., the company known for robotic models that have brought to life dinosaurs, sea creatures and insects. Following a six-month stay, "REPTILES!" will travel to venues throughout the United States.

Nile Crocodile carrying baby crocodiles to safety in her mouth "Reptiles are misunderstood and unforgiven," said Museum exhibit designer Michael Field. "Our mission is to explain how beneficial and amazing reptiles are and to dispel the myths about them. We hope people will leave with a sense of awe and respect, instead of fear."

Indeed, the combination of larger-than-life robotic reptiles, hands-on exhibits and living and breathing animals is jaw-dropping. Robotic reptiles created by Kokoro, some up to 10 times actual size, invite close examination and wonder as they glide and creep in natural settings.

  • A Nile Crocodile transports two crocodile babies to safety.
  • Moving its bulging eyes, a robotic Jackson's Chameleon flicks its tongue to extend one and a half times its body length.
  • A giant among freshwater turtles, an Alligator Snapping Turtle attempts to lure a cautious fish into its mouth.
  • A Western Diamondback Rattlesnake moves its head and tongue with curious determination.
  • A pack of Cynognathus (an extinct powerful predator) attack a Kannemeyeria (an extinct land-dwelling herbivore).

A 4,000 square foot exhibit accompanies the robots and tells the story of the biology, diversity and adaptability of these complex animals. In this interactive journey through the reptile world, visitors of all ages will learn about reptile origins and how they are an integral part of the web of life.

"The diversity of reptiles is truly mind-boggling," said Museum graphic designer and exhibit developer Nancy Owens Renner, part of the exhibit team that created "REPTILES!"

A live reptile zoo and demonstration area invites visitors to closely examine and interact with these marvels of nature. "We want to instill appreciation of reptiles and help visitors to see them as part of nature -- to let their beauty show," said Jim Melli, Museum exhibit preparator.

Special Additions for San Diego Venue

In addition to the travelling exhibit, the San Diego Natural History exhibits team has created exhibit displays that are especially relevant to our Museum.

Inspired by Reptiles:The Story of Laurence Monroe Klauber
Explore Laurence Klauber's contributions to herpetology and our Museum.

The Museum Goes Wild
Take a trip to central Baja California and discover some alligator lizards (Elgaria sp.) previously unknown to the region.

The Value of Museum Collections
Natural history museums house a library of biological information. See how specimens are used in scientific research.

Desert Tortoises: It's a Tough Life
Experience live desert tortoises and learn about their way of life in a harsh environment.

Sea Turtles of the Californias
See life-size turtle cut-outs and the life story of a leatherback. Play the predator (with puppets) as turtles run the gauntlet of survival.

Are We Loving Reptiles to Death?
A thought-provoking discussion of ecological issues surrounding our demand for reptiles as pets.

We invite you to explore our new home-grown exhibit with curiosity and wonder,
and to discover that cold and scaly is beautiful.

Reptiles! Real and Robotic