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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department of Vertebrate Zoology

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum
Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum Ecuador, Napo Province. Photographed by Roy McDiarmid



Eleutherodactylus griphus (Holotype)
Dorsal view of Holotype Eleutherodactylus griphus. Drawing rendered by Molly Dwyer Griffin.

The first list of USNM herpetological publications was issued in 1968 as No. 1 of the Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service (SHIS) series. In preparing the list, J. A. Peters scanned the tables of contents of the various Smithsonian publications for articles specifically mentioning amphibians and reptiles; paleontological, parasitological and general natural history papers were not included.

In the ten years since the first list appeared, the Smithsonian publications series have changed significantly. The Bulletin, Proceedings, and Miscellaneous Collections all have been discontinued and replaced by the Contributions series, two of which (Smithsonian contributions to Zoology and Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology) are potential outlets for herpetological papers.

In using, correcting and updating the 1968 list, I was confronted with decisions on exactly what should be included in a list of "herpetological" papers. It seemed highly superficial to list only those papers that mentioned amphibians or reptiles in the title, since several reviews with very significant herpetological information would have been excluded (e.g. Abbott, Proceedings, Vol. 16, No. 973). Similarly, it seemed unfair to bibliographers or authors of catalogue accounts to exclude parasitological papers, since such peripheral information often is hardest to locate. The most difficult decision was where to cut off paleontological coverage. I felt that most of Gilmore's work on dinosaurs was inappropriate but that many fossil papers dealing with sub-recent material were pertinent. However, in working through the paleo titles I found that recent species were reported or discussed in papers on Pleistocene or even Pliocene faunas. Consequently, I decided to include all herpetological papers, fossil and recent.

Although I have tried to avoid arbitrariness, I confess that a certain degree has been necessary; for example, whether to include a paper on birds that discusses similarities between fossil birds and reptiles. My rationale for inclusion was whether or not the discussion was "significant;" certainly it cannot be denied that my concept of significance may not agree with others in the scientific community but I have tended to be liberal with my inclusions. I chose not to include papers in the

"Explorations and Field Work" series that appeared from the 1920's to the 1940's. These titles would have greatly expanded this list and, although some useful information on localities, itineraries, etc. are contained in the summaries, no purely herpetological data are included.

I have long felt that a shortcoming of the first list was the lack of concern with dates of publication. Although most of the Smithsonian series have been fairly reliable about ensuring that the proper year of publication appears on separates, the exact date often is very useful when dealing with the nomenclature of older names. Consequently, I have expended considerable time and effort in establishing exact dates whenever possible. In some cases this was simple, since many of the recent papers had the dates printed on the separates, but more often than not some digging was necessary.

It was difficult to establish dates for earlier papers and in some cases it was not possible. The earliest volumes of the Proceedings were published by "signatures" of varying numbers of pages.* often the end of a given signature did not coincide with the end of a paper, so portions of one paper were published on one date and the remainder of the same paper may have appeared several months later. In these cases I have attempted to give inclusive dates for the entire paper, although the annotations for some signatures were very confusing.

At the back of the table of contents in Proceedings volumes 9-11, there is an explanation that the articles were "stereotyped" on the date at the bottom of the signature page but that the actual date of publication for each signature is given in the front of the volume. In these cases both the "stereotyped" date and the later "published" date are given, with the latter assumed to be the correct date of publication. Unfortunately, there is no indication if the same situation obtained with volumes 1-8, and a search of the records in the Smithsonian Archives and Press did not clarify the problem. Consequently, the signature dates are regarded as publication dates for volumes 1-8; it should be emphasized that some doubt exists and that additional data in the future could modify these dates.

Starting with Volume 12, each article was individually printed and the date of publication was more firmly established. These dates appeared in the Table of Contents for each volume, issued at the end of the year for inclusion in the bound set in the Smithsonian's main library. From Volume 32 to Volume 54, dates of publication appeared on the cover of separates from the Proceedings; these dates were verified by cross-checking with the dates in the tables of contents.

[Footnote, USNM Bull. (93):39. Proceedings papers Nos. 1-760 (vol. 1-11) were issued by signatures, and when the published date for a signature differs from the date it was received from the printer at the National Museum, the latter date has been used here as the actual date of publication. After No. 760 each article has its actual date of publication recorded in the completed volume of Proceedings.]

A similarly chaotic system was used for the earlier Miscellaneous Collections; as a consequence, the advertisement page for Volume 2, no. V lists 1862 as the date of publication but the various articles therein are dated from 1852 to 1862. Specifically, the Baird & Girard Catalogue (art. 49) has January 1853 on the cover and this date is verified in Baird's (see Bull. 20) and Girard's (Bull. 41) bibliographies (but also see Adler, K., J. Ohio Herpetol. Soc. 4:55-57, 1963).

The later Miscellaneous Collections followed much the same format as the Proceedings and dates were determined from the tables of contents. In some cases the "Quarterly Issue" Miscellaneous Collections were duplicated in the regular series. In the first edition of this list the "Quarterly Issue" numbers were listed separately and several titles were included incorrectly. I have attempted to minimize confusion by listing all under Miscellaneous Collections and using the earliest publication date when a paper appeared in both "series".

A limited number of copies of each Bulletin were stamped with the date of publication on the "Advertisement" page. Number 58 and 60 had the date printed on the title page.

The Contributions to Zoology also have a limited number of copies stamped with the date of publication. These dates have been cross-checked with the typed tables of contents in the bound set in the Smithsonian reference collection.

 If no specific date is included with the citation, it indicates that one could not be determined; two dates indicates disagreement between the dates stamped in two individual copies and the first date given is assumed to be correct.

For some of Cope's earlier papers in Smithsonian series, I utilized the following reference to help determine proper dates:

Osborn, Henry Fairfield. 1930 Biographical memoir of Edward Drinker Cope 1840-1897. Natl. Acad. Sci. Biogr. Mem. 13(3):127-317.

Cope's annotated bibliography is found on pp. 172-317, and an explanation of the extensive research on publication dates and titles of Cope's many papers is given on p. 172.

R.I. Crombie 1978




With the exception of the more recent numbers of the SHIS series, the publications of this list ARE NOT available from the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, the Smithsonian Institution Press, the National Museum of Natural History, or the Government Printing Office.


This update follows the criteria outlined in the earlier edition (SHIS 42). The order of presentation has been rearranged by date of origin of the publication series. A list of the SHIS pamphlets has been added, but they are dated only to year owing to their quasi-publication status.

The author owes a great deal to Leslie K. Overstreet, former librarian for the Vertebrate Zoology branch libraries, for her conscientious bibliographic assistance. Kraig Adler also pointed out his article clarifying the date of publication for Baird and Girard's Catalogue (Misc. Coll., vol. 2). Patricia Zug transferred the original typescript to a computer file. W. Ronald Heyer and Linda K. Gordon proofed a preliminary draft of this update.


R.I. Crombie August 1994

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