Saturday, 28 July 2012

Edward Cope's 170th Birthday

One-hundred seventy years ago today was born Edward Drinker Cope, arguably the single most influential American herpetologist of the nineteenth century. Though his primary passion was paleontology--he was a powerhouse discoverer-namer of many North American dinosaurs--he was a prolific author in the fields of ichthyology and herpetology. So great is his influence that in 1913 the newly formed American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists named their journal in commemoration -- Copeia. Cope named dozens, possibly scores, of reptile and amphibian genera and species, the most well-know, perhaps, being the Gila monster.

Much has been written about Cope, and I doubt that I could add anything new. But older herpetologists know and revere the man and his works. The younger generation would do well to learn a bit about him. He may very well have been America's first professional herpetologist, and for that alone he deserves remembering.