The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians

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9781907807411: The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians

New species of animal and plant are being discovered all the time. When this happens, the new species has to be given a scientific, Latin name in addition to any common, vernacular name. In either case the species may be named after a person, often the discoverer but sometimes an individual they wished to honour or perhaps were staying with at the time the discovery was made. Species names related to a person are ‘eponyms'. Many scientific names are allusive, esoteric and even humorous, so an eponym dictionary is a valuable resource for anyone, amateur or professional, who wants to decipher the meaning and glimpse the history of a species name.

 

Sometimes a name refers not to a person but to a fictional character or mythological figure. The Forest Stubfoot Toad Atelopus farci is named after the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla army who found refuge in the toad's habitat and thereby, it is claimed, protected it. Hoipollo's Bubble-nest Frog Pseudophilautus hoipolloi was named after the Greek for ‘the many', but someone assumed the reference was to a Dr Hoipollo. Meanwhile, the man who has everything will never refuse an eponym: Sting's Treefrog Dendropsophus stingi is named after the rock musician, in honour of his ‘commitment and efforts to save the rainforest'.

 

Following the success of their Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles, the authors have joined forces to give amphibians a similar treatment. They have tracked down 1,609 honoured individuals and composed for each a brief, pithy biography. In some cases these are a reminder of the courage of scientists whose dedicated research in remote locations exposed them to disease and even violent death. The eponym ensures that their memory will survive, aided by reference works such as this highly readable dictionary. Altogether 2,668 amphibians are listed. 

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About the Author:

Richard Crombet-Beolens is known to all as Bo Beolens or as his online personae, the ‘Grumpy Old Birder’ and the ‘Fatbirder’. While much of his career was in community work and as the CEO of various charities, all his free time has been spent birding or otherwise pursuing his life-long interest in the natural world. Since the late 1990s he has had articles published in a variety of birding magazines in the UK and USA. He is co-author of three other ‘eponym dictionaries’ and has a book of memoirs in publication. He has also written for several disability publications.



Michael Watkins is a shipbroker who mainly concentrated on the tanker oil and chemical markets and worked in London for 45 years. No longer active in the business, he is still associated with it as a tutor and part of the examining process for the industry's professional body, the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. Since retiring from the City, he has had more time for birding, travelling and grandchildren-minding, but never quite enough.



Michael Grayson spent most of his working life at the British Library, London. His childhood fascination with reptiles and amphibians never left him (much to his parents’ chagrin). His chief interests are vertebrate taxonomy and nomenclature, and the captive husbandry of exotic species. He is a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.

Review:

This book is a follow-up to the “Eponym Dictionary of Mammals” (2009) and “The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles” (2011), both by the same authors. This series of books lists those species that were named for people, or in some cases for “a place that was itself named after a person”.

The book contains 2,668 amphibian names: 1,609 honour known individuals, while 83 relate to “indigenous peoples, conservation groups, guerrilla armies, chartered accountants and biblical and mythological references.” A further 128 names “sound like people’s names but in fact are not”. Lastly, 11 of the entries are for people whom the authors have been unable to identify.

The book begins with a three-page Introduction, in which the authors detail the underlying premises of the book. I find it interesting to read about the unforeseen decisions that authors must make when compiling books such as this. The authors state that “tracking down the provenance of eponymous names, and finding out about the individuals responsible for them, proved to be fraught with difficulties.” The remainder of the book consists of the entries of eponymous amphibian names. Only extant species are treated; no fossil names are included.

The book is organized alphabetically by the names of persons for whom amphibians have been named. Each name is followed by a chronological list of the genera or species named for the person. English common name, scientific name, authority and year are provided for each species. Describers who appear more than once are in boldface. Each entry concludes with a biographical sketch of the person for whom the species is named.

Sometimes a new species will be described more than once, under different names, by different authors. In these cases, there are entries for both names, with the synonymy noted. Taxonomy is based on AmphibiaWeb, and is quite up-to-date, although given the recent rate of amphibian taxonomic change, many names will soon be superseded. In cases where location names have changed, both the current name and the original name are provided.

The authors point out in the Introduction that published descriptions in the literature often do not include a common vernacular name, and that these names are often added later, by persons other than the describer. Only the names of describer(s) are provided in the entries. I was surprised by the number of species for which common names do not reflect the specific epithet; for example, Ahl’s Toad is Duttaphrynus himalayanus; Ford’s Robber Frog is Craugastor daryi. This illustrates the often capricious origin and use of common names. In some cases the species was named in honour of a person, but the person’s name is not part of the species’ scientific name (eg. Pristimantis librarius).

Some biographies are quite brief, the only source a short Etymology section in the original description. Others are longer, over 200 words. The latter deal mostly with the professional (usually herpetological) accomplishments of the namesake, including appearances in the authors’ previous eponym dictionaries. Some biographies, however, catalogue the varied and interesting lives of their subjects, and in some cases invite a reader to investigate further (eg. Denhardt, Eyre, Humboldt, Lemaire).

The book ends with a Bibliography of 1.5 pages. Most entries here are journals from which descriptions were obtained. The list of journals is not exhaustive; although not explicitly stated, presumably the authors relied on AmphibiaWeb as a source for species described in journals that may not have been accessible. Phyllomedusa is not included in the bibliography; some species described in Phyllomedusa (Allobates granti, Pristimantis woranii and Litoria kuduki) are in the book, whereas others (Allobates algorei and Mannophryne orellana) are not.

I searched for some eponymous amphibian names that I described. Stefania coxi is included, but Stefania ackawaio (named for an indigenous people) is not, even though it was described in the same paper as S. coxi (Herpetologica, 2002). Adelophryne patamona, another species described for an indigenous people (Zootaxa, 2008), was also excluded, whereas Anomaloglossus kaiei (named for a Patamona chieftan) was included. I was surprised by the inclusion of Stefania ayangannae, which was named for the type locality, Mount Ayanganna in Guyana, not for a person.

I would have liked to see the type locality for each species included, but this is a minor quibble. I found no typos.

I found the book captivating. I enjoyed reading the short capsule biographies, many of which contained details that I found fascinating, and encourage further reading. I would also have liked to read more details about the “difficulties” alluded to in the Introduction. I realize, however, that space is limited.

The book is available in print, ePub, PDF and Mobi formats. My review copy was in PDF format, so I was unable to evaluate the paper, printing and binding.

(Phyllomedusa: Journal of Herpetology)

The introduction of The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians states that, “this book is for the amateur herpetologist, the student of zoology or anyone else interested in taxonomy, nomenclature or amphibians”. That does concisely sum up the audience for this work. The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians is best suited for libraries with large zoology or history of science collections and/or those supporting researchers working with amphibians. Clearly eponyms are a passion for the authors who have previously collaborated on The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles (Beolenset al., 2011) and Eponym Dictionary of Mammals (Beolenset al., 2009) (RR 2010/330). Beolens and Watkins also wrote Whose Bird?: Common Bird Names and the People they Commemorate (Beolens and Watkins, 2003).

Following the same format as their earlier works, The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians is arranged alphabetically by who or what the animal(s) was named after. Entries are brief, most consisting of only a few sentences. The common, scientific and alternate (if appropriate) names are given as well as the person who wrote the original description of the amphibian and the date of that description (if the original describer also has an amphibian named after them, his or her name appears in bold). This is followed by a short biography which often includes birth and death dates, profession or training (e.g. geologist, surgeon, etc.) and other personal titbits. The entries note if other birds, mammals, and/or amphibians have been named after them. Unfortunately it only gives the number of other animals not their names.

Many of the entries are quite fascinating. One entry notes that the person, Paul Brien, was a zoologist from Brussels who ran afoul of the Gestapo in 1942 and was arrested and interrogated. A few famous folks also have amphibians named after them, including the singer Sting, A.K.A. Gordon Sumner – Sting's Treefrog, Dendropsophus stingi, and Charles Darwin, who has three frogs named after him – Darwin's Frog, Rhinoderma darwinii; Chile Darwin's Frog, Rhinoderma rufum and Charles Darwin's Frog, Ingerana charlesdarwini. More than one entry notes the unfortunate demise of the honoree in the course of doing their work. Hubert Huntingdon Smith, a deaf naturalist, was killed when he was hit by a train. Karl Patterson Schmidt was killed by a boomslang, a venomous snake. He did not think the snake capable of a fatal blow and declined to seek medical treatment. He did however keep meticulous notes of his symptoms.

Some entries are named after native peoples, geographical features, mythical and fictional characters. Others are named after wives, mothers, grandmothers, etc. One eponym was even given as a birthday present.

This is not a field guide and will not help in identifying amphibians or learning about their biology or behaviour. The only pictures are located on the cover. Additional images would have been nice to both give a visual reference for an animal and to break up the text to some extent.

Unfortunately, there is not an index of common names or an index of scientific names that would have made this a more useable resource. Entries are listed alphabetically by person the amphibian is named after and for many the source of the eponym is in the common name, but not always. For Kaplan's Garagoa Treefrog, named after Melissa Kaplan, this is the case. Sometimes the eponym is only seen in the scientific name. For example, Pehr Kalm, who has the New Jersey Chorus Frog, Pseudacris kalmi, named after him. For some the eponym is seen in both the common and scientific names (e.g. Grey's Robber Frog, Eleutherodactylus greyi, named for Robert M. Grey). In any case, scientific and common name indexes would have been useful for locating specific amphibians within the book. A bibliography appears at the end.

The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians is clearly a labour of love and a fascinating work. The entries are concise and informative and often entertaining. While it could have been improved with the addition of an index or two, it will still be a valuable resource for professional and amateur herpetologist alike.

(Alisa Mizikar Reference Reviews)

What links Sting, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart, Montezuma, the inventor of the OXO stock cube, and Bilbo Baggins? Well, it turns out that they've all had frogs named after them, and by dint of that fact, they all appear in this surprisingly entertaining book. The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians collects 1,609 “honoured individuals” after whom 2,668 amphibians are named. Each gets a concise biography of varying length. The authors have deliberately chosen to give shorter entries to those, such as Charles Darwin, who are already well known.

How do you go about having a frog or salamander named after you? Finding a new species helps, but generally only if you give it to someone else to name (naming something after yourself is considered poor form, although it
does occasionally happen – apparently Dr Vincent A. Wager somehow managed to name a species of Stream Frog, Strongylopus wageri, after himself “by mistake”). Going by the evidence contained in this book, the best option is to be a biologist of one species or another. Being a herpetologist (someone who studies reptiles and amphibians) helps, but you could be an earwig specialist and still be chosen. 

Being related to a herpetologist is also a good option – numerous parents, siblings, offspring and the odd grandmother get entries, as do quite a few long-suffering wives. And then there are the intrepid collectors who risk life and limb to bring back unusual specimens from steaming jungles – such as Roy Chapman Andrews, who is believed by many to have been the real-life Indiana Jones. You could also try being the expedition comedian: one Thomas J. Berger, immortalized in Berger's Glass Frog, Hyalinobatrachium bergeri, “provided comic relief while securing part of the type series”.

Of course, not all the eponyms are derived from real people. Gods and other characters from a variety of mythologies crop up regularly. The Obree Rainforest Frog, Cophixalus sisyphus, was named after the founder of Corinth – condemned by the gods to spend eternity pushing a rock up a hill–because of the effort involved in sorting out the taxonomy of the group of species it belongs to. The Wine Robber Frog, Pristimantis bacchus, was named for the Roman god of wine, the moniker being a “loose allusion to the blood-red eyes of this frog”. James Menzies, a renowned expert on the frogs of Papua New Guinea, was obsessed by Wagner's ring cycle, and named species after Swanhilde, Gudrun, Brünnhilde and Fafner, among other characters. Several figures from J. R. R. Tolkien's works also feature in this book.

My friend Dr Stephen J. Richards, once named a frog Litoria majikthise: Majikthise (pronounced “magic thighs”) was a character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the name reflected the frog's “vividly coloured thighs and groin”. There is obviously a certain sort of taxonomist who delights in such metaphorical literary connections. The name of Rostand's Papuan Treefrog, Litoria rostandi, a species with a long, fleshy snout, commemorates the French playwright Eugène Rostand, who wrote Cyrano de Bergerac. The cinema gets a look-in, too. A species of Glassfrog, Teratohyla amelie, was named for the protagonist of Amélie, a film in which “little details play an important role in the achievement of joie de vivre like the important role that Glassfrogs and all amphibians and reptiles play in the health of our planet”. At times this humour is a little overworked. Take the Executioner's Treefrog, Hyla carnifex. Many of the early specimens were collected by John D. Lynch; the Latin word carnifex means public executioner or hangman.

While this book functions effectively as an etymological dictionary, it also works as a treasure trove of amusing and intriguing nuggets of biographical detail. For example, there's David Howells Fleay (Fleay's Barred Frog, Mixophyes fleayi), “the last person to photograph a thylacine [Tasmanian tiger] in captivity in Hobart Zoo; it bit him on the buttock and he proudly carried the scar for life”. And then there is the French explorer René Chudeau, after whom the Bata Marsh Toad, Amietophrynus chudeaui, was named; he discovered the first dinosaur bones in Niger and was summarily dismissed from his post as a lecturer at the University of Besançon for living with an alleged prostitute. And the remarkable Ida Laura Pfeiffer, immortalized in Ida's Brighteyed Frog, Boophis idae, who, after circumnavigating the globe twice in the mid-1800s, became embroiled in a plot to overthrow the government of Madagascar and was expelled from the country.

The book also exposes the role serendipity plays in the discovery of new species. The Hokuriku Salamander, Hynobius takedai, was named after Toshio Takeda, a former headmaster, who collected the holotype – the single original specimen used to describe the species – while cleaning the schoolyard drains and who now devotes his time to helping prevent the creature from sliding into extinction. And it reveals the perils of engaging in herpetology as a career. Many of those mentioned died of malaria, several were gored by buffalo, one was trampled by a wounded elephant, and another was fatally bitten by his pet snake.

(Geordie Torr Times Literary Supplement)

Speaking of the Eponym Dictionary of Mammals, George A. Feldhamer, writing for the Quarterly Review of...

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Book Description Pelagic Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. New species of animal and plant are being discovered all the time. When this happens, the new species has to be given a scientific, Latin name in addition to any common, vernacular name. In either case the species may be named after a person, often the discoverer but sometimes an individual they wished to honour or perhaps were staying with at the time the discovery was made. Species names related to a person are eponyms . Many scientific names are allusive, esoteric and even humorous, so an eponym dictionary is a valuable resource for anyone, amateur or professional, who wants to decipher the meaning and glimpse the history of a species name. Sometimes a name refers not to a person but to a fictional character or mythological figure. The Forest Stubfoot Toad Atelopus farci is named after the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla army who found refuge in the toad s habitat and thereby, it is claimed, protected it. Hoipollo s Bubble-nest Frog Pseudophilautus hoipolloi was named after the Greek for the many , but someone assumed the reference was to a Dr Hoipollo.Meanwhile, the man who has everything will never refuse an eponym: Sting s Treefrog Dendropsophus stingi is named after the rock musician, in honour of his commitment and efforts to save the rainforest . Following the success of their Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles, the authors have joined forces to give amphibians a similar treatment. They have tracked down 1,609 honoured individuals and composed for each a brief, pithy biography. In some cases these are a reminder of the courage of scientists whose dedicated research in remote locations exposed them to disease and even violent death. The eponym ensures that their memory will survive, aided by reference works such as this highly readable dictionary. Altogether 2,668 amphibians are listed. Bookseller Inventory # AAR9781907807411

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Book Description Pelagic Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. New species of animal and plant are being discovered all the time. When this happens, the new species has to be given a scientific, Latin name in addition to any common, vernacular name. In either case the species may be named after a person, often the discoverer but sometimes an individual they wished to honour or perhaps were staying with at the time the discovery was made. Species names related to a person are eponyms . Many scientific names are allusive, esoteric and even humorous, so an eponym dictionary is a valuable resource for anyone, amateur or professional, who wants to decipher the meaning and glimpse the history of a species name. Sometimes a name refers not to a person but to a fictional character or mythological figure. The Forest Stubfoot Toad Atelopus farci is named after the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla army who found refuge in the toad s habitat and thereby, it is claimed, protected it. Hoipollo s Bubble-nest Frog Pseudophilautus hoipolloi was named after the Greek for the many , but someone assumed the reference was to a Dr Hoipollo.Meanwhile, the man who has everything will never refuse an eponym: Sting s Treefrog Dendropsophus stingi is named after the rock musician, in honour of his commitment and efforts to save the rainforest . Following the success of their Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles, the authors have joined forces to give amphibians a similar treatment. They have tracked down 1,609 honoured individuals and composed for each a brief, pithy biography. In some cases these are a reminder of the courage of scientists whose dedicated research in remote locations exposed them to disease and even violent death. The eponym ensures that their memory will survive, aided by reference works such as this highly readable dictionary. Altogether 2,668 amphibians are listed. Bookseller Inventory # AAR9781907807411

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Book Description Pelagic Publishing. Hardback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians, Bo Beolens, Michael Watkins, Michael Grayson, New species of animal and plant are being discovered all the time. When this happens, the new species has to be given a scientific, Latin name in addition to any common, vernacular name. In either case the species may be named after a person, often the discoverer but sometimes an individual they wished to honour or perhaps were staying with at the time the discovery was made. Species names related to a person are 'eponyms'. Many scientific names are allusive, esoteric and even humorous, so an eponym dictionary is a valuable resource for anyone, amateur or professional, who wants to decipher the meaning and glimpse the history of a species name. Sometimes a name refers not to a person but to a fictional character or mythological figure. The Forest Stubfoot Toad Atelopus farci is named after the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla army who found refuge in the toad's habitat and thereby, it is claimed, protected it. Hoipollo's Bubble-nest Frog Pseudophilautus hoipolloi was named after the Greek for 'the many', but someone assumed the reference was to a Dr Hoipollo. Meanwhile, the man who has everything will never refuse an eponym: Sting's Treefrog Dendropsophus stingi is named after the rock musician, in honour of his 'commitment and efforts to save the rainforest'. Following the success of their Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles, the authors have joined forces to give amphibians a similar treatment. They have tracked down 1,609 honoured individuals and composed for each a brief, pithy biography. In some cases these are a reminder of the courage of scientists whose dedicated research in remote locations exposed them to disease and even violent death. The eponym ensures that their memory will survive, aided by reference works such as this highly readable dictionary. Altogether 2,668 amphibians are listed. Bookseller Inventory # B9781907807411

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Book Description Pelagic Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. New species of animal and plant are being discovered all the time. When this happens, the new species has to be given a scientific, Latin name in addition to any common, vernacular name. In either case the species may be named after a person, often the discoverer but sometimes an individual they wished to honour or perhaps were staying with at the time the discovery was made. Species names related to a person are eponyms . Many scientific names are allusive, esoteric and even humorous, so an eponym dictionary is a valuable resource for anyone, amateur or professional, who wants to decipher the meaning and glimpse the history of a species name. Sometimes a name refers not to a person but to a fictional character or mythological figure. The Forest Stubfoot Toad Atelopus farci is named after the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla army who found refuge in the toad s habitat and thereby, it is claimed, protected it. Hoipollo s Bubble-nest Frog Pseudophilautus hoipolloi was named after the Greek for the many , but someone assumed the reference was to a Dr Hoipollo.Meanwhile, the man who has everything will never refuse an eponym: Sting s Treefrog Dendropsophus stingi is named after the rock musician, in honour of his commitment and efforts to save the rainforest . Following the success of their Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles, the authors have joined forces to give amphibians a similar treatment. They have tracked down 1,609 honoured individuals and composed for each a brief, pithy biography. In some cases these are a reminder of the courage of scientists whose dedicated research in remote locations exposed them to disease and even violent death. The eponym ensures that their memory will survive, aided by reference works such as this highly readable dictionary. Altogether 2,668 amphibians are listed. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781907807411

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