Thursday, May 9, 2024

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 18(5)

Bauer, A. M. , R. Powell and A. H. Griffing. 2024. Two Largely Forgotten Early Sources on the Fer-de-Lance of Martinique, Bothrops lanceolatus. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 18(5):60–70.

Bothrops lanceolatus, the Martinique Lancehead, commonly called the “Fer-de-Lance”, is a large pitviper of both medical importance and conservation concern. The species was described by La Cépède (1789), but because names in this work were ruled by the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature to be unavailable, most subsequent authors have attributed authorship to Bonnaterre (1790), who used La Cépède’s name (Coluber lanceolatus) and repeated his content. The sources for information about the Fer-de-Lance available to La Cépède and Bonnaterre were limited.

La Cépède (1789) cited four specific sources: Rochefort (1667), unpublished communications from [Barthélemy de] Badier, and two contributions from the Nouvelles de la République des Lettres et des Arts, one (the Mémoire) with no identified author and the other (the Lettre) by M. Bonodet de Foix (1786).

Bonnaterre (1790) introduced new information communicated to him from an unpublished manuscript by the French Minim friar Charles Plumier by the noted Berlin physician and ichthyologist Marcus Eliesar Bloch, La Cépède (1789) and Rochefort (1667), and the Mémoire and Lettre, for which he gave only the year of publication (1786), as did La Cépède (1789).

After Bonnaterre, the publications in Nouvelles de la République des Lettres et des Arts were widely cited for nearly a century, while in the last 145 years we found mentions of Bonodet only in de Lalung (1934), a short book on the Fer-de-Lance, and Dewynter et al. (2023), a modern work on the herpetofauna of Martinique. Nothing in any of these works, though, suggests that the authors subsequent to La Cépède actually consulted an original copy of the Nouvelles de la République des Lettres et des Arts.

Because these two elusive papers in the Nouvelles de la République des Lettres et des Arts were apparently critical sources informing the early literature of the Fer-de-Lance, we undertook to consult them directly (perhaps for the first time in well over two centuries) to clarify how much of La Cépède’s (1789) account, and those of others, depended on the information they provided. We here present a translation of these key early works on the Fer-de-Lance, along with biographical information about Bonodet de Foix, bibliographic data about Nouvelles de la République des Lettres et des Arts, and an evaluation of both the veracity and the significance of statements about the Serpent de la Martinique made by Bonodet and the anonymous author of the Mémoire.

No comments:

Post a Comment