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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Vertebrate Zoology

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum
Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum Ecuador, Napo Province. Photographed by Roy McDiarmid
Imantodes cenchoa
Imantodes cenchoa Ecuador, Pastaza Province. Photographed by William W. Lamar.

The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles is devoted to herpetology, the scientific study of amphibians and reptiles, and to building and maintaining preserved collections of those animals, which are used in research by the staff of the Division as well as herpetologists throughout the world. Researchers in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles specialize in systematic herpetology, the branch of the science that attempts to determine what are the species of amphibians and reptiles and how those species are related to one another as parts of larger taxonomic groups. The National Collection of Amphibians and Reptiles is among the largest and most important herpetological collections in the world, consisting of more than 580,000 specimen records, representing over 667,000 specimens and many thousands of type specimens, which serve a critical function concerning the scientific names of amphibians and reptiles.

The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles consists of four basic components:

  • The Collections: preserved and dry specimens of amphibians and reptiles and special collections of specimen-related objects such as audiotapes, photographs, histological slides, and tissue samples.
  • Data: records of when, where, how, and who collected the specimens.
  • Staff: people that manage the collections and investigate the biology of amphibians and reptiles.
  • Library: specialized literature on amphibian and reptile biology.

News and Highlights

Pod 5 at MSC

The Herps Collection has Moved

The National Collection (USNM) of Amphibians and Reptiles has moved from the Natural History Building (NHB) in downtown Washington, DC, to the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland. Collections of turtles, crocodilians, salamanders, and caecilians moved to the MSC in the 1980s and 1990s; those of lepidosaurs and frogs moved to the MSC in 2009 and amphibian larvae in 2011. Only the collection of lizard skeletons remains at the NHB. Please direct inquiries concerning collection access to Jeremy Jacobs.

Jeremy Jacobs

New Collection Manager

Jeremy F. Jacobs is a new Collection Manager in the Division of Amphibians, taking over duties previously performed by Traci Hartsell. Jeremy previously worked in the Bird and Mammal Divisions of the National Museum of Natural History, but he has a long association with herpetology in general and the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles in particular. Please see Jeremy's staff page for additional information.

Dr. George Zug

Featured Online Lecture

Snakes: Local & Exotic - Dr. George R. Zug presented this informative lecture in June 2008 at the NMNH Naturalist Center in Loudon County, Virginia.

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