Clifford H. Pope

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Clifford Hillhouse Pope
Born (1899-04-11)April 11, 1899
Washington, Georgia,
Died June 3, 1974(1974-06-03) (aged 75)
Residence New York City, Chicago
Nationality US
Fields Herpetologist
Institutions American Museum of Natural History, Field Museum of Natural History
Doctoral students none.
Known for Study of snakes, reptiles, frogs, salamanders

Clifford Hillhouse Pope (April 11, 1899 – June 3, 1974) was a noted American herpetologist. He was the son of Mark Cooper Pope and Harriett Alexander (Hull) Pope, and grew up in Washington, Georgia. While in college in the summers of 1919 and 1920 Pope went to the New York Zoological Society's Tropical Research Station at Katabo Point British Guiana, maintained by William Beebe. Starting in 1921, after graduating from the University of Virginia, he spent many years in China as part of the Central Asiatic Expeditions of the American Museum of Natural History, accompanying Roy Chapman Andrews on the expedition to the Gobi desert that first discovered fossilized dinosaur eggs. Pope mastered the Chinese language and made a total of eight expeditions in Chinese territory prior to 1930.[1] In China he gave scientific names to the Kuatun horned toad, Hyla sanchiangensis, Amolops chunganensis, Rana fukienensis, and others. He also did a great deal of work with Karl Patterson Schmidt. Pope worked at the American Museum of Natural History from 1921-1934.[2] He was president and journal editor of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in 1935.

In 1927, the Boy Scouts of America made Pope an Honorary Scout, a new category of Scout created that same year. This distinction was give to "American citizens whose achievements in outdoor activity, exploration and worthwhile adventure are of such an exceptional character as to capture the imagination of boys...". The other eighteen who were awarded this distinction were: Roy Chapman Andrews; Robert Bartlett; Frederick Russell Burnham; Richard E. Byrd; George Kruck Cherrie; James L. Clark; Merian C. Cooper; Lincoln Ellsworth; Louis Agassiz Fuertes; George Bird Grinnell; Charles A. Lindbergh; Donald B. MacMillan; George Palmer Putnam; Kermit Roosevelt; Carl Rungius; Stewart Edward White; Orville Wright.[3]

Starting in 1940 Pope worked at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, as Curator, Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, where his field efforts focused on plethodontid salamanders in Mexico, California, and the eastern United States. Pope and Archie Carr greatly expanded the knowledge of North American turtles, and Pope was one of the first herpetologists to write factually about the giant snakes for the general public. Pope retired from the Field Museum in 1954. Pope is the author of many books including Snakes Alive and How They Live (1937), Turtles of the United States and Canada (1939), China’s Animal Frontier (1940), The Reptile World (1955) and The Giant Snakes (1961). Pope's keelback (Amphiesma popei ), Pope's emo skink (Emoia popei ), and Pope's skink (Eumeces popei ) are named in his honor. Popes' tree viper (Trimeresurus popeorum) is named in honor of Pope and his wife Sarah H. Pope.[4] A well-known quote from Pope is that "snakes are first cowards, then bluffers, and last of all warriors." [5]


  1. ^ West, James E. (1931). The Boy Scouts Book of True Adventure. New York: Putnam. OCLC 8484128. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Around the World". Time (magazine). 29 August 1927. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  4. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Pope, C.H.", pp. 209-210).
  5. ^ Pope, C.H. (1958). Snakes Alive and How They Live. New York: Viking Press.