June 1, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 11)
Strong Points: Good organization, very expansive database
Weak Points: Lack of content in some areas
Earless monitors and two-legged worm lizards—these creatures might have leapt straight from the pages of a fantasy novel. Yet, these very real critters are among the 8,863 reptilian species contained within the TIGR Reptile Database, operated through the J. Craig Venter Institute. The site provides ample classification information, so anybody can get a phylogenic fix. The next time you and your friends play six degrees of serpentine separation, you’ll be ready. In addition to providing taxa relationships, the database also offers information about the various species, including habitat, physical characteristics, and reproduction. Definitely geared toward those with an academic interest in reptiles, there is, however, a link titled “reptiles as pets.” Don’t look here to buy your next scaly companion, though. The website’s message to potential pet owners: don’t do it.