Reptile experts Dave Schneider and Dave Burkett are conducting research in Pine Barrens, New Jersey. As part of their work, Burnett is photographing some baby rattlesnakes. But as he stares through his lens, he notices that one of his venomous subjects has a terrifying deformity.

Put simply, herpetology is the analysis of cold-blooded tetrapods, namely reptiles, amphibians, and caecilians. While such creatures seem otherworldly compared to our human selves, scientists believe that we have much to learn from them. Indeed, herpetologists’ work is beneficial in a number of ways.

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