by 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.
About the authors
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.
amphibian, herpetofauna, herpetology, eponym, dictionary, taxonomy
"Beolens, Watkins, and Grayson (all, independent scholars) offer a directory of living amphibians whose scientific or common name is derived from a person's name. The directory is arranged alphabetically by these individuals' names. Normally, the name of an individual within the scientific name is a tribute from the zoologist who first formally described the species to a colleague (sometimes the person who collected the specimen), or to a sponsor of the research. But the many possible variations all are explained in this book, which is primarily intended to serve as a reference for amateurs or specialists interested in this background. For anyone interested in natural history, this volume makes for fascinating browsing. Additionally it serves as an excellent illustration of the web of scientific and personal relationships in the field. The source of the scientific names is the AmphibiaWeb database at Berkeley, supplemented by standard directories and the scientific literature. The book also contains biographical and anecdotal information about the individuals, derived from a variety of sources, including personal knowledge; unfortunately specific citations are lacking."
– D. Goodman, CHOICE, December 2013
"Carolus Linnaeus, the scientist who laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme passed away over 200 years ago but still new species are discovered every day and even amphibians, a rather small group of animals, had over 160 new species described last year (2012). Describing new species is funny because it is one of the few instances in science where you can leave a permanent record and, at the same time, express yourself without too many constraints. Zoologists, explorers, collectors and sometimes relatives, lovers, and friends of the taxonomist often had the honour to have their name Latinised and used to name a previously unknown species. This is considered a great privilege as the scientific names can perpetuate the memory of a person for hundreds of years.
The book “The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians” deals exactly with this subject: it provides information about scientific and common names that contain a person’s name. So if you consider an amphibian species as Hydromantes strinatii (Aellen, 1958) you will find a biography of the Swiss biospeleologist Pierre Strinati to whom the species is dedicated (but not of Villy Aellen who described it because the describer is not considered an eponym).
For each entry there is a list of amphibians named after the person, a short biography that ranges from a few words for persons that contributed only marginally (or not at all!) to science and culture in general, to over 25 lines for famous zoologists. Since this book is organized as a dictionary it is not illustrated except for the nice front cover; the references are limited to a general list of books and journals, this latter could not be a problem in the internet age as a quick web search with carefully selected word usually delivers a wealth of information.
Names are arranged alphabetically and so, when needed, it is easy to check for a surname and obtain the information you are looking for. I tried to look for the Societas Herpetologica Italica members and I found few people listed: Franco Andreone, Emilio Balletto, Benedetto Lanza for whom there are complete and correct data.
I then tried to check if all the eponyms of Italian amphibians were included and again I was amazed by completeness and the accuracy of the biography presented. I was a little surprised by the absence of Paolo Savi that is related to the Italian common name of Salamandrina perspicillata but then I realized that the most used English common name for this species is Northern spectacled salamander, thus it does not include the word “Savi”. This poses some questions about the choice of common names that, especially for amphibians and reptiles, are often controversial so that for some species a plethora of names is available. Is this book really complete and up to date? I had the opportunity to keep it at and on my desk for nearly three months, I checked it often and I am quite sure that the book is the result of a long and careful work; with 2668 eponyms listed to honour 1609 names I am fairly sure that is almost complete. Even species recently described as Lyciasalamandra yehudahi 2012 dedicated to the father of middle east herpetology Yehudah Werner were included. This book will unfortunately not going to be a bestseller as there are not so many people that are eager to know that Uraeotyphlus oommeni is dedicated to the Indian zoologist Oommen V. Oommen, but anyway I found it a very useful tool, especially when the eponym you are looking for is not so famous or when the name honoured is a living zoologist.
As a final note, I would like to add that the tireless authors of this book already published few other eponym dictionaries dedicated to Reptiles and Mammals that you’ll find listed among the references (while the ones dedicated to Shark and Rays, and to Birds are in press). There are still many species on the Planet that are waiting to be described and named, this is the reason why I sincerely hope that all these books will be updated on a regular basis, maybe taking in account also fossil species so that Eobarbourula delfinoi the eponym of the president of our Societas Herpetologica Italica could be listed."
– Edoardo Razzetti, Acta Herpetologica, February 2013
"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."
– Ross D. MacCulloch, Royal Ontario Museum, Phyllomedusa - 12(1), June 2013
"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, April 2014
"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, TLS, 14 Feb 2014
"I’m becoming very fond of Pelagic Publishing, the firm behind the new ‘The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians’ (EDA,) by Bo Beolens (known to nearly all and sundry as the Fatbirder), Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson. They seem to be specialising in bringing to market books that are niche or – to put it less ambiguously – are unlikely to sell in high volume, for which they deserve support and applause. And it’s not because their wildlife titles aren’t well-written or well-researched that they probably won’t be best-sellers, but because they’re unlikely (sadly) to find their way onto the bookshelves of most amateur naturalists, let alone members of the general public whose quest for knowledge of the natural world stops at BBC documentaries.
That’s a problem all publishers face in these austere times of course, but Pelagic are ploughing a notably brave furrow. Take the EDA as an example. I happen to know Bo, and I happen to know how hard he and his colleagues worked to write this gem of a book. A massive amount of research went into it, tracking down some incredibly obscure references, and re-checking data that online sources have requoted from quoted sources that are now buried in – to use a well-worn phrase – the mists of time. The result of all that hard work is a dictionary, one that uncovers the places or those explorers, collectors, scholars, patrons, aristocrats or Wagnerian characters immortalised in the vernacular and/or scientific names of 2,668 of the world’s amphibians (many of which are now in very real danger of extinction of course, as habitat change and disease sweeps the planet).
Arranged alphabetically, EDA is a treasure trove of ‘things you didn’t know you didn’t know’ and leafing through it is a great way to idle away an hour or two. Perhaps it’s a reflection on my own ignorance and more people than I realise do actually know that Molloch, who appears in the scientific name of the Black-spotted Frog, was a sun god of the ancient Canaanites, or that Jason Speer, VP of Quality Float Works Inc of Illinois, donated enough towards research to have a poisonous frog named after him, but somehow I doubt it. There are some more well-known names in here – eg Pere David who is remembered via a deer and a raft of Asian birds, Johann von Spix of Macaw fame, Bullock who has rather lovely North American oriole named after him, the rainforest activist and silvery-voiced Sting (who has his own tree frog), and Simon Bolivar who (as EDA points out) is one of the most significant figures in South American history. On the whole though this is a lovingly compiled list of amphibians and the folk who discovered them that many hardcore herpetologists may well be partly familiar but that will be new to most of us.
Which brings me back to the point I started with: EDA is probably not going to be a book that sells in high volume. It’s not illustrated, it’s written in a mostly straightforward and pithy way without flourish or extraneous comment, but this is still a wonderful book, because – in my humble opinion – while not many of us need to know that Karunaratne’s Narrow-mouthed Frog is named after a Sri Lankan zoologist and entomologist, I find it uplifting that Bo and the two Michaels have featured him and a whole world full of diligent, hard-working individuals (1,609 of them to be exact) in a book – and that Pelagic have backed the project and clearly worked hard to help present it in as readable way as possible.
I would assume that anyone ‘into’ amphibians, and perhaps into better understanding the history of wildlife discovery, will buy EDA immediately. I’d like to think so. Despite a high-ish cover price (around £35.00) I hope others will give it a look to, and above all I hope that writers like Bo Beolens and publishers like Pelagic (who do print more ‘popular’ titles in case anyone reads this and is given the impression that they don’t!), keep writing and publishing compilations of data and info that the internet was supposed to kill off but that more than ever deserve to be available as a hard copy that we can all pick up and enjoy."
– Charlie Moores, Talking Naturally, June 2013
"Speaking of the Eponym Dictionary of Mammals, George A. Feldhamer, writing for the Quarterly Review of Biology, said: “I suspect that there are few people interested in picking up a dictionary for ‘fun’ reading.” I suspect he was right. however, the eponym dictionaries are enjoyable — and sometimes downright fun. Although professionals will use them to solicit information about the people (and sometimes places and miscellaneous groups) for whom animals are named, these dictionaries are not so highly technical or full of jargon that a curious naturalist or anyone interested in animals won’t enjoy them, if only for trivial pursuits.
Eponyms are the proper names incorporated into many vernacular and scientific names, typically honoring a person for their contributions to science, often for a body of work of great importance (e.g., Charles Darwin) but sometimes for financial support of a particular expedition, the provision of a permit, for collecting the specimen that became the type for the species (or genus or subspecies), or simply for being a friend of the describer.
Although printed by different publishers, both books [The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles and The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians] are organized in the same fashion. After short introductions in which the authors discuss the format of each book, names of the persons honored are listed alphabetically (it is a “dictionary,” after all), followed by lists of taxa named for that person, with common (or vernacular) english name(s), scientific name(s), name(s) of the person(s) who first described the taxon, and the date of the original description. Alternative common names and scientific synonyms (different names assigned to the same taxon) are included when necessary. A short biographical sketch of the honoree is then followed in the amphibian book, when applicable, by a list of other nonamphibian taxa named for the person in question. Confusion is minimized by frequent cross-listings. Very short bibliographies complete each volume.
The authors reasonably avoid fossil species by not including any forms that became extinct before Columbus “discovered” America. Nevertheless, they list 2,668 names of amphibians and 4,130 names of reptiles honoring 1,609 and 2,330 individual people, respectively — but the process proved to be “fraught with difficulties.” Despite avoiding dubious names (impossible to identify or simply incorrect), problems abounded. A few species are named for more than one person, other names sound like those of people but are not, referring instead to places (often named for people, therefore the confusion), indigenous peoples, fictional characters, conservation groups, guerrilla armies, chartered accountants, and biblical or mythological references, not to mention a few that the authors were unable to identify.
Famous names abound. Charles Darwin is honored with the names of three amphibians (plus one that also honors Alfred Wallace) and seven reptiles — plus two additional reptiles named for the port of Darwin in the northern territory of Australia and four mammals and 23 birds. Edward Drinker Cope, for whom the journal Copeia is named and who might be better known for his role in the 19th-century “dinosaur wars” with rival Othneil C. Marsh, is honored with the names of 19 amphibians and 59 reptiles. Most are vernacular names acknowledging him as the describer of those taxa. Doris Cochran, long-time curator of amphibians and reptiles at the national museum of natural history (Smithsonian Institution) is honored with the names of 11 amphibians (including one genus) and nine reptiles. German naturalist Wilhelm K. H. Peters is honored with 18 amphibians (and one honoring both him and James Peters, an American zoologist specializing in the Ecuadorian herpetofauna) and 39 reptiles (plus 23 mammals and two birds). German-born British zoologist Albert Günther is honored with 26 amphibians and 67 reptiles (plus three mammals and two birds), possibly the most for any one person, although I did not count the entries for every person listed. E.H Taylor, of the University of Kansas and known mostly for his work in the Philippines and later in Mexico (using “marginally reliable vehicles”), is honored with 20 amphibians and 29 reptiles (plus a mammal).
Examples of oddities include Hyla andersonii (Anderson’s treefrog), which is not named after a person at all, but instead for the type locality of Anderson, south Carolina; Dendropsophus amicorum is the name of a treefrog ollectively thanking all of the describer’s friends (amicorum means “of the friends”); and Pristimantis uisae is a “robber frog” named for the Universidad Industrial de Santander in Bucaramanga, Colombia. The bushmaster genus (Lachesis) is named for one of the three Fates in Greek mythology, and stewart’s stickytoed Gecko (Hoplodactylus rakiurae) honors Rakiura national park on Stewart Island, New Zealand.
Although an impossible task to include every possible namesake (and more are being added all the time), two omissions are notable. In 1988, Richard Thomas and S. Blair Hedges named the Martin Garcia Least Gecko (Sphaerodactylus ladae) after their rental car (a Russian-built lada), and in 1972, James (“skip”) Lazell described the Anguilla bank bush Anole (Anolis pogus). Assuming that the specific epithet was derived from the Greek pogus (= beard), many authorities (obviously including the authors) have used “bearded Anole” as the vernacular name, although no evident character is suggestive of a beard. In fact, Lazell named the lizard for pogo, Walt Kelly’s cartoon character of the longrunning American comic strip and probably best known for saying: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Production quality is high for both books, but the list prices are substantial (especially for the reptile book). Fortunately, steep discounts available from volumesellers render them affordable — and worth the price. Do not fall prey to the inclination to set these volumes aside as dry and of use only to hardened academics. In unique fashion, they provide an overview of distinguished herpetologists and a multitude of other people who have impacted our field. So, while scholars will exploit these books, readers can simply enjoy them.
– Robert Powell, IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians, June 2013
"I think that the authors are to be congratulated for the effort that they have put into these books [Eponym Dictionaries], and for the apparent scrupulousness with which they have pursued their goals. An immense amount of research has gone into the work, tracking down obscure references and re-checking data from the original sources. ...
These are not books only for reference, but also for dipping into in moments of quiet contemplation, because there is a wealth of quirky information here. The biographies vary from amusing anecdotes to boring lists of technical achievements, presumably depending on the available information."
– David A Morrison, Systematic Biology, January 2014