Mexican Mole Lizards Revisited

Once again UTA herpetologist Carl J. Franklin was asked to assist in the making of a documentary regarding Mexico's most enigmatic and interesting reptile the mole lizard (Bipes biporus).  This time it was with British naturalist Nick Baker and an enthusiastic film crew from Icon Films based in the UK.   Given the recent advances in video technology the film crew and Carl both captured extensive amounts of footage of this reptile in high definition video.  However the trip was a multi-faceted affair as it laid out essential ground work for future research with this incredible animal that is likely to greatly illuminate our knowledge as it pertains to this seldom seen creature.

Nick Baker is the host of Nick Baker's Weird Creatures which airs on Animal Planet.  This episode will likely become one of the most talked about reptile features presented on Animal Planet.  Be certain to check back for episode updates.


Worm Lizard Documentary

Worm lizards are one of the least known of groups of reptiles and quite possibly the most bizarre vertebrates inhabiting the earth.  Given such it is of little surprise that UT Arlington herpetologist were motivated to document them on video.

Click here to view the first ever documentary regarding these weird and fascinating creatures.


Viral video featuring a UTA herpetologist!

In 2002 Carl Franklin visited the NBC channel 5 studios to promote an educational event featuring reptiles at the Dallas Museum of Natural History.  Due to the nature of the event he brought a few reptiles for the camera.  What happened on that fateful live broadcast turned out to be a comedic moment that has since been downloaded more than 5 million times and featured on several television blooper programs.  Click here to view clip featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  ENJOY!



Saving the last of the Guatemalan Beaded Lizards

     In the early 1980s Dr. Jonathan A. Campbell discovered a new subspecies and population of beaded lizard in the Motagua river valley of southern Guatemala.  Sadly, since their discovery this population has experienced a significant population decline and is nearing extinction.  Fortunately, through the vigilant efforts of Project Heloderma (Click Here) and several zoological institutions in both Guatemala and the United States this trend may become a thing of the past.  While the usual protocol of collecting scientific specimens involves preserving the specimens, Dr. Campbell understood the rarity of this find and returned with some live specimens which are now being used as founding stock for captive breeding programs at the Zoo Atlanta and the San Diego Zoo.  Asides from the efforts with specimens in captivity educational programs for school children in Guatemala are underway and have reached an estimated 50,000 students!  Also the International Reptile Conservation Foundation is in the process of acquiring the land where the lizards live.

Be sure to visit Project Heloderma to learn more about this exciting project. Click Here



Frogs: The Original Evening Concert

     Almost every species of frog and toad can produce sound which can be used to indicate distress, territory and the availability and fitness for interested females.  Our researchers commonly visit areas where these night time singers provide free performances.  This sample was recorded late one night from a pond in the lowlands of eastern Venezuela.  Can you identify the five species of frogs in this recording (hint: they are all tree frogs of the family Hylidae).


Songs of the Night

The Mysterious Mexican Mole Lizard

     It comes as little surprise that while in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico Biological Curator Carl J. Franklin was busy flipping rocks and searching for sights unfamiliar to most who visit the region.  It should also come as no surprise that a herpetologist from the University of Texas at Arlington was once again embarking upon new territory.  However, unlike the more common contribution of manuscripts describing species new to science or behavioral analysis this project is expected to result in a widespread application.

In Japan, more than 3 million viewers tune in each week to the popular television program Dream Vision 2.  The purpose of the show is to provide viewers with original material that is being shown on television for the first time.

The producers of Dream Vision sent a director to shoot the first ever footage of the Mexican mole lizard (Bipes Biporus) for broadcast this fall on Nippon Television.  To secure the necessary expert assistance for finding these weird and secretive reptiles, representatives from the network tracked down our very own Carl J. Franklin from the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center.

Franklin first learned of these interesting creatures during a visit his fourth grade class made to the library.  Every since that memorable afternoon more than two decades ago Franklin’s fascination with these unusual reptiles has never diminished.

Fortunately, you don’t even need to leave your chair to catch a glimpse of this animal!  Click here to see first time ever video footage of the legendary Ajolote or Mexican worm lizard.

Click here to learn more about this strange and fascinating reptile.

Bipes Video


Discovering New Species of Reptiles from the Sierra de Botaderos of eastern Honduras

The Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington has a long standing reputation for making major contributions towards understanding the herpetology of Central America.  In fact the collection currently houses the world’s largest collection of amphibians and reptiles from Guatemala and sizeable holdings of specimens from Mexico, Honduras, and other Central American nations.

Given such, it came as little surprise that post doctoral researcher Dr. Eric N. Smith and doctoral student John H. Malone were invited to assist in an expedition to a remote area in Honduras.  Due to its overall pristine condition, the Sierra de Botaderos is an interesting location for such an event.

One member of the expedition had already made a previous visit to the location and was certain that a new species of pit viper occurred there.  However, as luck would have it two new species of pit vipers instead of one were discovered and preparations are currently underway to describe these new species. 

While it did not capture the headlines here in the United States, newspapers from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Germany published articles pertaining to the account of the discovery.

For more information regarding the expedition into the Sierra de Botaderos click here.



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