George Albert Boulenger
George Albert Boulenger FRS (19 October 1858 – 23 November 1937) was a Belgian-British zoologist who described and gave scientific names to over 2,000 new animal species, chiefly fish, reptiles and amphibians. Boulenger was also an active botanist for in last thirty years of his life, especially in the study of roses.
Boulenger was born in Brussels, Belgium, the only son of Gustave Boulenger, a Belgian public notary, and Juliette Piérart de Valenciennes. He graduated in 1876 from the Free University in Brussels with a degree in natural sciences and worked for a while at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels as an assistant naturalist studying amphibians, reptiles, and fishes. He also made frequent visits during this time to the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris and the British Museum in London.
In 1880, he was invited to work at the Natural History Museum, then a department of the British Museum, by Dr. Albert C. L. G. Günther and assigned to the task of cataloguing the amphibians in the collection. His position in the British Museum meant that he had to be a civil servant of the British Empire, and so became a naturalized British subject. In 1882 he became a first-class assistant in the Department of Zoology and remained in that position until his retirement in 1920.
According to biographical accounts, he was incredibly methodical and had an amazing memory that enabled him to remember every specimen and scientific name he ever saw. He also had extraordinary powers of writing and seldom made a second draft of anything he wrote and his manuscripts showed but few corrections before going to the publisher.
Boulenger also played the violin, could speak French, German and English apart from reading Spanish, Italian and a bit of Russian. As a zoologist, he also had a working knowledge of both Greek and Latin.
By 1921, Boulenger had published 875 papers totaling more than 5,000 pages, as well as 19 monographs on fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. The list of his publications and its index of species covers 77 printed pages.
He described 1,096 species of fish, 556 species of amphibians, and 872 species of reptiles. He was famous for his monographs on amphibians, lizards and other reptiles, and fishes for example his monographs on the fishes of Africa.
He was a member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and was elected its first honorary member in 1935. In 1937, Belgium conferred on him the Order of Léopold, the highest honor awarded to a civilian.
Work on cave dwelling fish
In 1897 King Léopold II of Belgium started to recruit naturalists to help create the Congo museum. Boulenger was named chairman for this commission.
His main discovery in 1921 was a strange fish from Congo. It was eyeless and lacked pigmentation. He recognized it as new and unrelated to any extant epigean (eyed, surface) species of Africa. He wrote a brief paper describing this new species of cave fish, the first ever described from Africa. He called it Caecobarbus geertsi, from caeco = blind, barbus = barb, and geertsii, honoring a mysterious person, M. Geerts, who provided him with the specimen. Today it is known as the Congo or African blind barb.
Some species that Boulenger described
- Allobates femoralis 1884
- Allobates kingsburyi 1918 (Kingsbury's Rocket Frog)
- Allobates ranoides 1918 (Llanos Rocket Frog)
- Allobates trilineatus 1884 (Three-striped Rocket Frog)
- Ansonia muelleri 1887 (Muller's Toad)
- Aromobates alboguttatus 1903 (Whitebelly Rocket Frog)
- Arthroleptis spinalis 1919 (Tanganyika Screeching Frog)
- Arthroleptis taeniatus 1906 (Striped Screeching Frog)
- Arthroleptis xenochirus 1905 (Marimba Screeching Frog)
- Arthroleptis xenodactylus 1909 (Anani Screeching Frog)
- Astylosternus batesi 1900 (Benito River Night Frog)
- Atelopus elegans 1882
- Atelopus erythropus 1903
- Atelopus oxyrhynchus 1903
- Atelopus pulcher 1882
- Atelopus spurrelli 1914
- Atelopus tricolor 1902 (Three-colored Harlequin Toad)
- Bombina maxima 1905 (Large-webbed Bell Toad)
- Bombina orientalis 1890 (Oriental Fire-bellied Toad)
- Breviceps macrops 1907 (Desert Rain Frog)
- Bufo blanfordii 1882 (Blanford's Toad)
- Bufo dodsoni 1895 (Dodson's Toad)
- Bufo gracilipes 1899 (French Congo Toad)
- Bufo latifrons 1900
- Bufo lemairii 1901 (Lemaire's Toad)
- Bufo luetkenii 1891 (Yellow Toad)
- Bufo microtympanum 1882 (Southern Hill Toad)
- Bufo parietalis 1882 (Indian Toad)
- Bufo superciliaris 1888 (Cameroon Toad)
- Bufo vittatus 1906 (Banded Toad)
- Cardioglossa elegans 1906 (Elegant Long-fingered Frog)
- Cardioglossa escalerae 1903 (Equatorial Guinea Long-fingered Frog)
- Cardioglossa gracilis 1900 (Rio Benito Long-fingered Frog)
- Cardioglossa leucomystax 1903 (Silver Long-fingered Frog)
- Ischnocnema ramagii 1888 (Paraiba Robber Frog)
- Leptodactylodon albiventris 1905 (Whitebelly Egg Frog)
- Leptodactylodon ventrimarmoratus 1904 (Speckled Egg Frog)
- Leptopelis brevipes 1906 (Musole Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis calcaratus 1906 (Efulen Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis christyi 1912 (Christy's Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis gramineus 1898 (Badditu Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis millsoni 1895 (Niger Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis ragazzii 1896 (Shoa Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis vannutellii 1898 (Dime Forest Treefrog)
- Leptopelis vermiculatus 1909 (Anani Forest Treefrog)
- Mannophryne collaris 1912 (Collared Poison Frog)
- Mantella cowanii 1882 (Cowan's Mantella)
- Nyctibates corrugatus 1904 (Southern Night Frog)
- Scotobleps gabonicus 1900 (Gaboon Forest Frog)
- Trichobatrachus robustus 1900 (Hairy Frog)
- Toxotes blythii 1892 (Archer Fish)
- Cuora yunnanensis 1906 (Yunnan Box Turtle)
- Homopus femoralis 1888 (Karroo Tortoise)
- Indotestudo travancorica 1907 (Travancore Tortoise)
- Lamprophis fiskii 1887 (Fisk's House Snake)
- Lamprophis fuscus 1893 (Yellow-Bellied House Snake)
- Psammobates tentorius trimeni 1886
- Pseudechis collettii 1902 (Collett's snake)
- Terrapene carolina yucatana 1895 (Yucatán Box Turtle)
- Xenochrophis asperrimus 1891 (Boulenger's keelback)
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
- Watson, D. M. S. (1940). "George Albert Boulenger. 1858-1937". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 3 (8): 13–26. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1940.0002.
- Frans A. Stafleu & Richard S. Cowan (1976). Taxonomic literature: a selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, 2nd edition. 1: A–G. Utrecht: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema. p. 384. Retrieved 18 June, 2013.
- "Author Query for 'Boulenger'". International Plant Names Index.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Boulenger at www.clt.astate.edu
- Scanned version of Fauna of British India. Reptilia and amphibia volume by Boulenger
- The Snakes of Europe online text
- List of reptiles described by Boulenger in the Reptile Database