Publication Abstracts

Myers and Stothers 2006

Myers, C.W., and R.B. Stothers, 2006: The myth of Hylas revisited: The frog name Hyla and other commentary on Specimen medicum (1768) of J. N. Laurenti, the "father of herpetology". Arch. Nat. Hist., 33, 241-266.

Laurenti's (1768) Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium is the source for the class name Reptilia and for many common genera, including Hyla, whose derivation is given incorrectly in dictionaries and source books. Laurenti explicitly based Hyla on the mythological boy Hylas, quoting Virgil's Eclogues in a long footnote abbreviated from Servius, the fourth-century Latin commentator on Virgil. Laurenti recognized the boy's name as masculine, but unambiguously treated the genus Hyla as feminine — a puzzling transfer of gender allowable by the modern Code of zoological nomenclature. An overview is provided of the taxonomy of Specimen medicum. Most of Laurenti's 28 generic names were obtained from earlier sources, including Linnaean species names, among them Rana hyla. Laurenti saw specimens for nearly a third of 242 included species. Other species, including twelve taxa ostensibly based solely on specimens, came from descriptions and especially illustrations in sixteenth- to eighteenth-century publications. Laurenti's taxonomic sources, variably abbreviated and usually undated, are identified and referenced. Authors have misinterpreted the literature basis for Laurenti's genus Caudiverbera, the type species of which is mythical, belonging neither to the Amphibia nor Reptilia.

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BibTeX Citation

@article{my05000n,
  author={Myers, C. W. and Stothers, R. B.},
  title={The myth of Hylas revisited: The frog name Hyla and other commentary on Specimen medicum (1768) of J. N. Laurenti, the "father of herpetology"},
  year={2006},
  journal={Arch. Nat. Hist.},
  volume={33},
  pages={241--266},
}

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RIS Citation

TY  - JOUR
ID  - my05000n
AU  - Myers, C. W.
AU  - Stothers, R. B.
PY  - 2006
TI  - The myth of Hylas revisited: The frog name Hyla and other commentary on Specimen medicum (1768) of J. N. Laurenti, the "father of herpetology"
JA  - Arch. Nat. Hist.
VL  - 33
SP  - 241
EP  - 266
ER  -

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