Wilfred T. Neill

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Wilfred T. Neill (1922–2001) was a herpetologist and author. His name survives in the scientific name of the Central Florida Crowned Snake, Tantilla relicta neilli.


Wilfred T. Neill, Jr. was born in Augusta, Georgia on January 12, 1922. He graduated at the age of 19 with a B.S. from the University of Georgia. He served in the Army Air Force in the South Pacific during World War II.


After the war, Neill taught Biology and Zoology in Augusta, Georgia, at Richmond Academy and Augusta Junior College. In 1949, he joined E. Ross Allen's Reptile Institute in Silver Springs, Florida as Research Director.

Neill was the first to describe the Everglades Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta rossalleni, a subspecies of Elaphe obsoleta, 1949), the Gulf Hammock Dwarf Siren (Pseudobranchus striatus lustricolus, a subspecies of Pseudobranchus striatus, 1951), the One-toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter, 1964), and the Southern Florida Rainbow Snake (Farancia erytrogramma seminola, a subspecies of Farancia erytrogramma, 1964).

In 1966, herpetologist Sam Telford honored Neill by giving Neill's name to a newly-described subspecies of the Florida Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta): Tantilla relicta neilli.

Neill published an influential work on crocodile biology in 1971: The Last of the Ruling Reptiles: Alligators, Crocodiles, and their Kin.

Illness and death[edit]

Neill's health suffered a decline after a nearly fatal snakebite in 1978. It was the forty-first time he had been bitten by a venomous snake. He died of pneumonia on February 19, 2001, in Lakeland, Florida.