Herpetology Collection History
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Some of the earliest herpetology material in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology was obtained by the Peabody’s first Curator of Zoology Addison E. Verrill on the island of Dominica in the late 1890s. Specimens were added sporadically during the early 20th century as a corollary of museum-based collecting trips. Marshall B. Bishop made significant collections of herpetological material in Florida during the 1930s, and Yale Peabody Museum expeditions (such as the Morden African Expedition) continued to add to the collection.

The herpetology collection includes the specimens used by Stanley C. Ball in his extensive monograph (1936) on the natural history of the spadefoot toad in Connecticut. Willard D. Hartman brought back an important cecillian collection from the Seychelles in 1958, along with material from India and Papua New Guinea.

In 1967, Thomas M. Uzzell, Jr. was appointed the first Assistant Curator of Herpetology in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology. Uzzell’s work focused on the genetics, sexuality and evolutionary biology of salamanders and lizards. The herpetology collection expanded in the late 1960s as a result of the work of Uzzell and his colleagues. Under Uzzell’s guidance, the collection was completely recatalogued, rebottled, and physically moved into new quarters in the Kline Geology Laboratory.

The herpetology collections also grew at this time through the collecting efforts of Charles Reed (mammalogy), who amassed large series of Egyptian material, and Raymond Paynter and Philip Humphrey (ornithology), who brought back material from Pakistan and Haiti, respectively. Between 1968 and 1970 Charlie Miller contributed significant series of Cameroon specimens to the collection.

For a more detailed history see “Herpetology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History,” by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell, 2002. Herpetological Review 33(4):253–255 [PDF 104K]. Used by permission.