The Ontario Science Centre presents Lizards & Snakes: ALIVE!



    Engaging exhibition that features more than 50 live lizards and snakes

    TORONTO, June 17 /CNW/ - This summer, squamates will be crawling and
slithering at the Ontario Science Centre. What's a squamate? It's Latin for
"scaly" and it's the word scientists use to describe the group of animals that
includes lizards and snakes. Opening on June 17 and running until September 7,
2009, the new exhibition Lizards & Snakes: ALIVE! will feature more than 50
squamates, displaying a diverse group of live lizards and snakes from five
continents.
    One of the many special exhibitions and programs the Ontario Science
Centre is presenting during its 40th anniversary year, Lizards & Snakes:
ALIVE! showcases 55 live animals and their unique adaptations, including
projectile tongues, deadly venom, amazing camouflage and sometimes surprising
modes of locomotion. Representing 26 species from such countries as Australia,
Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, Madagascar and Sudan, the exhibition includes
specimens ranging from a 10-centimetre Tropical Girdled Lizard to a four-metre
Burmese Python. Visitors will also see and learn about other squamates,
including the Green Iguana and Veiled Chameleon, Eastern Water Dragons,
Blue-tongued Skinks and Campbell's Milk Snakes. The animals are shown in
re-created habitats complete with ponds, tree limbs, rock ledges and live
plants.
    The exhibition examines many aspects of lizards and snakes, including
their hunting strategies and the reason why snakes have become squamate
superstars. One group, the "sight hounds" - a group of about 1,400 species
including iguanas and their relatives - like humans, rely on their vision, and
not their sense of smell, to find their dinners and mates. They use their
tongues to capture their food. The "nose hounds" - a large group including
monitors, skinks and snakes - use a highly evolved chemoreceptive system that
collects chemical clues from the environment and delivers them to special
sense organs on the roofs of their mouths. Another focus of the exhibition
concerns snakes who have compensated for the absence of limbs by using thermal
vision, complex venom-delivery systems, constriction and expandable jaws that
allow them to capture and swallow prey many times larger than their own heads,
thus making them one of Earth's most successful vertebrates.
    Lizards & Snakes: ALIVE! offers interactive stations inviting visitors to
listen to recorded squamate sounds, get a close-up look at live geckos, test
their knowledge about the creatures on display and explore the inner workings
of a rattlesnake on the hunt. An activity centre features hands-on exhibits
and activities - from matching lizards to their habitats to assembling
squamate skeletons, puzzles, games and more.
    "For many years, live animals have been part of the Ontario Science
Centre experience, whether it's part of our educational programming or on
permanent display," says Lesley Lewis, CEO, Ontario Science Centre. "The
Science Centre is home to Poison Dart Frogs in the Rainforest, a Bearded
Dragon Lizard in KidSpark, a Black Rat Snake and Giant Cave Cockroaches in the
Living Earth Hall, amongst others. Lizards & Snakes: ALIVE! is a natural
extension to our own live specimens. Showcasing the remarkable evolutional
story of vertebrates, the exhibition helps to dispel some of the myths and
fears surrounding these fascinating creatures," Ms. Lewis added.
    "Visitors to this exhibition will learn about the amazing diversity of
squamates - a group composed of roughly 8,000 known species of lizards and
snakes and how they have evolved into many shapes and sizes and have come to
live in so many habitats," says Darrel Frost, Associate Dean of Science for
Collections; Curator, Department of Herpetology, Division of Vertebrate
Zoology, American Museum of Natural History and curator of Lizards & Snakes:
ALIVE!

    
    About the Ontario Science Centre
    --------------------------------
    
    The Ontario Science Centre opened on September 26, 1969, pioneering the
concept of an interactive science museum. Since then, well over 40 million
visitors have passed through its doors. It is a model for over a thousand
science centres around the world that have been built since its inception.
    The Ontario Science Centre uses science as the lens to inspire and
actively engage people in new ways of seeing, understanding and thinking about
themselves and the world around them. The Ontario Science Centre is an agency
of the Government of Ontario. Please visit us at www.ontariosciencecentre.ca.

    
    About the American Museum of Natural History
    --------------------------------------------
    
    The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's preeminent
scientific, educational and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869,
the Museum has advanced its global mission to explore and interpret human
cultures and the natural world through a wide-reaching program of scientific
research, education and exhibitions. The Museum has accomplished this
ambitious goal through its extensive facilities and resources. The institution
houses 45 permanent exhibition halls, state-of-the-art research laboratories,
one of the largest natural history libraries in the Western Hemisphere, and a
permanent collection of more than 30 million specimens and cultural artifacts.
    This exhibition is organized by the American Museum of Natural History in
New York, in collaboration with the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in
Atlanta, and the San Diego Natural History Museum, with appreciation due to
Clyde Peeling's Reptiland.
    This exhibition has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural
Attractions Fund of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Culture,
administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.





For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Ellen Flowers, Media Relations
Officer, (416) 696-3154 OR ellen.flowers@osc.on.ca; Christine Crosbie, Media
Relations Officer, (416) 696-3191 OR christine.crosbie@osc.on.ca


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