James A. Peters

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Dr. James Arthur Peters
BornJuly 13, 1922
Durant, Iowa, United States
DiedDecember 18, 1972 (1972-12-19) (aged 50)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Known forHis research on herpetofauna of Ecuador
Scientific career
InstitutionsSmithsonian Institution

James Arthur Peters (July 13, 1922 – December 18, 1972) was born in Durant, Iowa; grew up in Greenup, Illinois. He studied at the University of Michigan and obtained his Ph.D. in biology in 1952. He studied with the herpetologist Norman Edouard Hartweg.

He held teaching positions in

He held positions in the Department of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Smithsonian Institution

  • Associate Curator (1964–1967)
  • Curator (1967–1972)

Peters was a member of professional societies such as: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, where he served as secretary, 1960–1966, vice-president, 1967 and president, 1970. He was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club. He inaugurated the Smithsonian Herpetological Information Services which distributed materials to herpetological institutions and individuals. He founded the newsletter MUDPIE (Museum and University Data Program and Information Exchange) providing information on computer programs, references, grants, meetings, etc.

His main subject of research was herpetology and zoogeography of Latin America, especially Ecuador. During his thirty years of research in herpetology he described seventeen new species or subspecies, most of them amphibians, such as a few neotropical toads of the genus Atelopus.

Several neotropical amphibians and reptiles are named after him, including Anadia petersi, Ameerega petersi, Colostethus jacobuspetersi, Gonatodes petersi, Helicops petersi, Micrurus petersi, Riama petrorum, Sibynomorphus petersi, Pristimantis petersi, and Tantilla petersi.[1]

Selected works[edit]

  • Peters, J. A. 1960. Snakes of the Subfamily Dipsadinae. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
  • Peters, J. A., Orejas-Miranda, B., Donoso-Barros, R. 1970. Catalogue of Neotropical Squamata. Smithsonian: Washington, 2 vols. B9149.
  • Peters, J. A. 1959. Classic Papers in Genetics. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
  • Peters, J. A. 1964. Dictionary of Herpetology. Hafner, New York.
  • Article in the Concise American Heritage Dictionary.
  • Article in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
  • The snakes of Ecuador; check list and key (The Museum, Cambridge, 1960).


  1. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Peters, J.A.", p. 204).

Further reading[edit]

  • Kraig Adler (1989). Contributions to the History of Herpetology, Society for the study of amphibians and reptiles.
  • [1] Smithsonian Institution Archives. Record Unit 7175 James A. Peters Papers and Records of the Division of Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Perry, M. C. (editor). 2007. The Washington Biologists’ Field Club: Its Members and its History (1900-2006). Published by the Washington Biologists’ Field Club, Washington, D.C. 352 pp. ISBN 0615162592\9780615162591

External links[edit]