Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(9)

Dodd, C. K. Jr. 2023. Bibliographica Herpetologica – Updates on “How to Raise a Bullfrog” and “Snakes in a Grave”. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(9):83–85. Published September 19, 2023.

ISHBH at the 10th World Congress of Herpetology

Members of the ISHBH,

The 10th World Congress of Herpetology will be held in Kuching, Sarawak, on the island of Borneo from 5-9 August 2024.

ISHBH should be well represented there, and a great way to promote the society and attract new members is to have at the Congress a special symposium that is dedicated to the history and bibliography of herpetology. 

I would like to submit a proposal for such a symposium. I am writing to encourage you to join me, Aaron Bauer, and Thore Koppetsch and talk about your favorite aspect of history or bibliography of herpetology. We are framing the symposium with that broad topic to attract as many of you as possible to join us. We plan on a half-day symposium, allowing us to have 8 to 9 15-minute presentations or 4 to 5 30-minute presentations.

Presenting in the symposium will not prevent you from also giving a research talk at Congress, so please consider this opportunity and JOIN US!!

All I need at this point is your name, your affiliation, a tentative talk title, and, if you are already committed to attending, a written statement that you plan to attend and can afford to get there (Congress organizers cannot guarantee funds for travel to the meeting).

Note: All presentations are expected to be face-to-face at the Conference Centre in Kuching!

Please send these ASAP, and no later than 27 September to me at cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu

I look forward to hearing from many of you!!

Chris Bell Secretary, ISHBH

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(8)

André Koch, A. and S. Schweiger 2023. On the Provenance of the two large Gharials in the Display Collection of the Natural History Museum Vienna. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(8):67–82. Published August 31, 2023.

This article is an extended translation of the following publication: Koch, A. and S. Schweiger (2023). Zur Provenienz der beiden großen Gangesgaviale in der Schausammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, 125B: 83–100.

While exhibits in natural history museums have great value as display and teaching objects, they can also have a provenance that is fascinating and enlightening. One such example are the two large gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) hides exhibited in the Natural History Museum Vienna. They were purchased in 1902 by Franz Steindachner, the then Intendant (Director), and impress with their enormous size of 453 cm and 543 cm, respectively. Although they have been in the museum's collections for 120 years, until recently very little was known about the origin of the two crocodiles and how they originally came to Vienna. During our provenance research, we were able to reconstruct considerable aspects of the path of the two unique specimens from South Asia via the famous animal trader Carl Hagenbeck and the Umlauff family business in Hamburg, Germany, to the Austrian capital. In addition, other large gharial specimens in European natural history museums from Umlauff are discussed and illustrated herein.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Update to: The Exploits of Arvid Blumenthal, Latvia’s “Crocodile Harry” in Australia by C. K. Dodd

 An update to: Dodd, C.K., Jr. 2022. The Exploits of Arvid Blumenthal, Latvia’s “Crocodile Harry” in Australia. Posted 9 March 2022.

In this note, I highlighted the early life of Arvid Blumenthal’s time as a crocodile hunter in Australia as published in several small Latvian booklets. I noted that Rimants Ziedonis, with input from Blumenthal, recounted much of this information in a later book, Nacionālais Dēkainis - Krokodilu Mednieks [National Adventurer – Crocodile Hunter]. This book is extensively updated with information on Blumenthal’s life in Australia (2000, Jumava, Riga, Latvia, 199 p.). In addition to the text, the book contains eight pages of photographs and recounts Blumenthal’s extraordinary life and exploits after leaving the “Deep North” and running an underground (literally) bar and “museum” in Coober Pedy, Australia. Fig. 3 shows the cover of this book, which was unavailable to me until recently. 

Fig. 3. Cover of Nacionālais Dēkainis - Krokodilu Mednieks by Rimants Ziedonis. Author’s collection.

Submitted by: C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr.


Monday, August 7, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(7)

Caramaschi, U. and J. P. Pombal Jr. 2023. João Joaquim Pizarro (1842–1906), the first Brazilian to publish on anuran amphibians. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(7):56–66. Published August 7, 2023.

The contribution of João Joaquim Pizarro (1842–1906), the first Brazilian to publish on anuran amphibians, is analysed. Working at the Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1876 Pizarro published “De um pequeno animal extremamente curioso e denominado Batrachychthis” [On an extremely curious little animal named Batrachychthys], looking for to defend the “doctrine of transformism, so ably sustained by professor Darwin.” The genus name Batrachychthys Pizarro, 1876, published without association to a species name, was based on a tadpole (deposited in the Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, MNRJ 76) from Potrero Pires (Paraguay). Currently, Batrachychthys Pizarro, 1876 is synonymized with Pseudis Wagler, 1830 and, since Pseudis platensis Gallardo, 1961 is considered a full species, the tadpole described as Batrachychthys belongs to this taxon.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Report of the 2023 ISHBH Business Meeting

 Held at 12:00 on 16 July 2023 in the Marriott Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, Virginia, USA


A record 21 people attended the Business Meeting. This included four executive committee members (Aaron Bauer, Ralph Tramontano, Eric Hilton and Luis Ceríaco), 5 other current (or recently lapsed) members (John Moriarty, Gregory Watkins-Colwell, Robert Sprackland, Peter Uetz, Erin C. Anthony – joined during meeting), and 12 non-members (Bruna Santos, Teri Sprackland, Deepak Veerappan, Krista Koeller, Thore Koppetsch, Justin Lee, Andrew Powers, Diogo Parrinha, Elizabeth Glynne, Christopher Zobek, Florence Wen, Justin Bernstein).


Chairman Bauer called the meeting to order at 12:05 and presented reports from the executive committee.


2023 ISHBH Membership Report (submitted by John C. Murphy)


Number of members as of 10 July 2023

21 Life Members

47 Regular & Supporting Members

2 Corresponding

17 Institutional

88 Lapsed

3 of uncertain status


·       It is a priority to recover lapsed members and increase the number of paying memberships. We need an incentive that members are willing to pay for. Since we are open access, anyone can read the articles on-line and anyone can purchase the annual volume from us without a membership.  [Aaron Bauer noted that membership provides a substantial discount to Wahlgreniana and Eric Hilton noted that there is usually an increase in the number of members paying their dues in the fall, prior to or coincident with the issue of the annual printed copy of Bibliotheca Herpetologica.]

·       2024 publication prices have been requested from the German subscription service -HARRASSOWITZ.


2023 Editor’s Report (submitted by Breck Bartholomew)


Since last year’s board meeting, volume 16 of Bibliotheca Herpetologica was published on time with the hardcopy issues being mailed in December. Volume 16 contained 9 papers and 117 pages with nine authors from four countries (Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA). Last year the first two volumes of Wahlgreniana were published. This series is published as print on demand and will remain available through various online outlets, such as Amazon, and Blackwell, as well as from ISHBH directly. A couple of ideas for future volumes have been suggested, but nothing is currently in the works.

Bibliotheca Herpetologica volume 17 is well underway with 6 papers having been published so far. We currently have eight additional submissions that are currently in various stages of review. The range in topics continues to become more diverse. As a result, the most difficult task is finding appropriate reviewers. I continue to look for an associate editor — volunteers are welcome to contact me.


2023 ISHBH Treasurer’s Report (submitted by Eric J. Hilton)


The ISHBH remains in a good financial position, with $4,214.64 in its bank account, which is sufficient for publication of BH (17). The expenses and income for 2022 and 2023 to date are as follows:

2022. Expenses: $3,204.37; Income: $4,207.97

2023 to date. Expenses: $104.64; Income: $1219.80


Expenses comprise publication and mailing of BH (17) and volumes of Wahlgreniana; income comprise membership dues and publication of Wahlgreniana.

·       The Treasurer’s report was accepted unanimously by the members present.


Old Business: The donation by the Wahlgren family on behalf of the late founder of the ISHBH, Richard Wahlgren, remains in the temporary custody of SSAR while ISHBH establishes its tax-exempt status. The more than $41,000 will be used to establish an endowment that can be used to support special publications and events of the ISHBH.


New Business (and announcements): Aaron Bauer discussed plans for upcoming meetings. The ISHBH will meet with SSAR at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor June 27–30, 2024, where we will be listed on the program officially. There will be a rare herpetological book display at the Research Museums Center of the university. A visit will also be made to the plaque honoring Henry Sewall, whose work with massasaugas at the University of Michigan led to the discovery of immunotherapeutic venom resistance and eventually to the development of antivenins. If enough history abstracts are received it will be possible to have a historically themed contributed paper session in Ann Arbor. Please let Aaron know if you might want to present there.

The ISHBH will also meet at the 10th World Congress of Herpetology in Kuching, Malaysia August 4-10, 2024. We have been encouraged to submit a proposal for a historically themed symposium there. If anyone is willing to serve as the symposium organizer, please let Aaron know. This will be an excellent opportunity to shine a light on our society and interests. Two oral contributions per attendee will be allowed so this should facilitate the ability of some people to showcase their historical and bibliographic work.

Robert Sprackland announced that the Division of Herpetology at the Smithsonian is culling duplicate books and searching for missing titles. Exchanges may be possible and Robert is working on making a list of books needed and available.

Teri Sprackland discussed the nature of relevant archival sources in Paris and indicated that she could help those needing French translations or accessing the archives.

Peter Uetz suggested that all ISHBH publications be available digitally. This is the case for all previous publications of the ISHBH.

New member Erin Anthony informed the group that many of the books of Thomas Lovejoy had been purchased at auction and were for sale at Riverby Books in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Several younger attendees introduced themselves and explained their interest in herpetological literature.


The meeting closed at approximately 1:00 PM.


Respectfully submitted,

Aaron M. Bauer

ISHBH Chair and acting Meeting Secretary

Saturday, July 8, 2023

The Improbable Herpetologist

Helen Thompson Gaige’s passion for frogs, salamanders, lizards and more was unusual for a woman at the turn of the century. She defied gender stereotypes by becoming an expert in zoology and launching herself into globetrotting adventures to collect and study specimens. Her scientific legacy endures in the archive—and beyond. 

By Madeleine Bradford

See the full article by clicking here 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

ISHBH will be meeting at the JMIH meeting in Norfolk, Virginia July 12-16. - The Agenda

 Dear Fellow ISHBH Members


As noted in a previous posting, ISHBH will be meeting at the JMIH meeting in Norfolk, Virginia July 12-16. Our luncheon and business meeting will convene at 12:00 on July 16th at Grain (https://grainnorfolk.com/about/), which is just across from the meeting venue. After we settle in and orders are placed we will start the business meeting. Our last business meeting was held via Zoom on 29 September 2022. At that time the Executive Committee was reelected so no election will take place until 2024 (so if you are interested in running, please start thinking about it now!).


Meeting Agenda ISHBH 2023 Business Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, USA (July 16)
1. Opening of the meeting and welcome

2. Report of the Executive Committee, opportunity for questions
3. Review and approval of 2022 financial statement and proposed 2023-24 budget.
4. Old business (Wahlgren endowment)
5. New business
6. Closing of the meeting


The financial statement will be posted shortly and will be available at the in-person meeting.


Also, the ISHBH has been encouraged by the local host of the 10th World Congress (and ISHBH member) Prof. Indraneil Das to consider submitting a symposium proposal. This would be a wonderful opportunity for us and if enough members intend to go to Kuching next year, we could offer either a general or more specific history of herpetology symposium. Please see the WCH website and the symposium call. If you are interested in presenting a historical talk in Kuching in August 2024, or if you would like to organize such a symposium, please contact Aaron Bauer (aaron.bauer@villanova.edu) as soon as possible.

Call for Symposia for the 10th World Congress of Herpetology is now open. Please visit website (https://2024wch10.com) and check out the Symposia section (https://2024wch10.com/symposia_submission.php). 


I look forward to seeing some of you in Norfolk next week. For those who cannot attend in person, please feel free to send any questions or issues you would like raised. A report of the business meeting will be posted in late July or early August.


Best wishes,




Aaron M. Bauer

Chair, ISHBH

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(6)

Rivas, G. A., A. Prieto, R. Velásquez and J. Faivovich. 2023. Juan R. León-Ochoa (1937–2016): Pioneer of Herpetology in Venezuela. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(6):50–55. Published July 5, 2023.

Few Venezuelan zoologists have recorded the history of their disciplines. As a result, the more recent history of Venezuelan herpetology seems to have been forgotten rather quickly, especially in the areas where professionals and amateurs are scarce. We present herein a biographical sketch of Juan R. León-Ochoa as a contribution to the knowledge of the development of herpetology in Venezuela. He was a biologist who left a deep impression on our current knowledge of the ecology of the Venezuelan herpetofauna. Juan León is perhaps one of the first Venezuelan herpetologists to have been trained abroad, who also trained young Venezuelan investigators (who are becoming pioneers in their areas), without having been mentioned in the history of national zoology.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

ISHBH will be meeting at the JMIH meeting in Norfolk, Virginia July 12-16.

 Dear ISHBH Members,


The ISHBH will be meeting at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Norfolk, Virginia July 12-16. As many of you know, we usually have a lunch meeting over which we cover society business and finances. This year we will meet at 12:00-1:30 on July 16th at Grain (https://grainnorfolk.com/about/), a restaurant at the Hilton, just across the street from meeting venue. They do not take reservations, but we ask that you let Aaron (aaron.bauer@villanova.edu) know if you plan on attending. A meeting agenda and Treasurer’s report will be made available before the meeting (and online to those unable to attend in person). This year we will not have a separate field trip, as we often do, but we hope to have an informal discussion session for current and potential members. We look forward to seeing some of you in a few weeks in Norfolk.


Please also watch for upcoming announcements about next year. ISHBH will be represented at two different meetings (SSAR in Ann Arbor, Michigan in late June and the World Congress of Herpetology in Kuching, Sarawak in August). Both meetings will have associated library field trips and we have the opportunity to have a contributed paper session in Ann Arbor and a symposium in Kuching. More details will be provided soon, but if any members would consider presenting a paper at either of these meetings, please contact Aaron (aaron.bauer@villanova.edu).


Best wishes,



Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(5)

Dodd, C. K. Jr. 2023. Promoting Amphibians and Reptiles in French Agriculture and Horticulture—Albert Larbalétrier and La Grenouille. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(5):46–49. Published June 20, 2023.

Albert Larbalétrier (1863–1902?) was Professeur de l’École Pratique d’Agriculture du Pas-de-Calais, among other positions. As the name suggests, this and similar schools of practical agriculture were established to provide hands-on experience in farming regionally throughout France. In the United States today, we would call Larbalétrier an Agricultural Extension Service professor, as he published a great many books, booklets, and articles assisting farmers and gardeners in raising agricultural products (both plants and animals). His major work was published in 1888 as l’Agriculture et la Science Agronomique, but it contains nothing on amphibians and reptiles.

Nevertheless, Larbalétrier was a proponent of diversifying agricultural opportunities, and frogs were a part of his strategy. Frog legs have long been esteemed in France, yet their supply depended on gathering frogs from wild populations. Larbalétrier’s first publication on the potential for farmers to diversify their income by raising frogs was in 1899, with a second in 1901, followed by his important booklet on frogs in agriculture, La Grenouille, published in 1902. He also published several other papers on both useful and potentially harmful amphibians and reptiles to horticulture.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(4)

Jacobs, H. J. 2023. Heinrich Rost’s facsimile of Hermann Schlegel’s “Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien”. A unique volume – looted, rediscovered, and repatriated to the Lübeck Library. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(4):32–45. Published May 1, 2023.

Looting is obviously a general feature of war in all times. This is true not only for a number of cultural and archaeological objects that we still see in museums today, but also for a large number of mostly smaller objects that are often in private hands. Such is the case with the book discussed here: Hermann Schlegel’s “Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien” (1837–44) was meticulously and precisely copied as part of a 69-volume collection of similar natural history works by Heinrich Rost, the director of an educational institute and an enthusiastic naturalist, and used to organise his extensive collection of natural objects as well as for teaching purposes. After Rost’s death, the entire collection was bequeathed to the renowned Lübeck City Library. The collection was stored in mine tunnels during the Second World War and transported with a myriad of other artifacts to Russia in 1946. Here the trace of many volumes is lost, but one copy, on which this article focuses, turned up in the USA at the end of the last century and is now being returned to the Lübeck City Library by its owner.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Arthur Loveridge – Comic Book Hero

Arthur Loveridge (1891–1980) is today well-known for his contributions to herpetology. He served as an Associate in Zoology and later as Curator in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University for 33 years (1924–1957), where his specialty was African herpetology. Loveridge published numerous papers and monographs based on his time as first Curator at the National Museum of Kenya (Nairobi) (1914–1921), his service as Game Warden in Tanganyika (1921–1924), and his later five long expeditions to East Africa over the period 1926 to 1949. Additional information on Loveridge is in Kraig Adler’s Contributions to the History of Herpetology, Volume 1 (1989, SSAR Contributions to Herpetology No. 5, pp. 111–112).

While in Kenya, Loveridge was a member of the East African Mounted Rifles during World War I. During three years of service, he traveled extensively through what was then German East Africa (now Tanzania), naturally collecting amphibians and reptiles throughout his military travels despite the wartime danger.  Loveridge later published a popular book on his adventures in East Africa, Many Happy Days I’ve Squandered (1944, Harper & Brothers, 278 pp.), which was republished in several editions, including an Armed Services Edition published by the U.S. Government for the troops during World War II. It was likely this latter edition that led to Loveridge’s entry into the world of comic books.

It Really Happened was published from 1944 to 1947 by William H. Wise & Company in New York City. The series of 11 issues was printed in comic book format on newsprint quality paper because of the wartime scarcity of better-quality paper. The series featured stories of biography and history, and issues highlighted real war accounts of actual events and acts of heroism and courage. Most of the non-war stories focused on adventure and unusual or interesting people and places. Copies sold for US 10¢.

In 1944, It Really Happened included a story entitled “Savage Safari” focusing on Arthur Loveridge. The artist and story editor are uncredited. The story covers five unpaginated pages (see Figures below) published in Issue 4 (Vol. 2, No. 1, total of 52 pp. in issue, including covers and advertisements). It traces Arthur’s interest in nature, particularly reptiles, through his museum appointment in Kenya and his adventures in the Mounted Rifles and time as Game Warden. Snakes are prominently featured. In “Savage Safari,” Arthur Loveridge may be the only herpetologist to have his story depicted in a widely-circulated comic book. Other comics, such as “Mark Trail” by Ed Dodd (no relation), have featured amphibians and reptiles, but not personalities.

Submitted by C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr.

Figs. 1–5: “Savage Safari” from It Really Happened (Issue 4, 1944). Author’s collection.