James R. Dixon

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Dr. James Dixon with a rattlesnake in April, 2005.

James Ray Dixon (born August 1, 1928, in Houston, Texas – died January 10, 2015, in Bryan, Texas) was Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection at Texas A&M University.[1][2] He lived in El Campo, Texas throughout most of his childhood. He published prolifically on the subject of herpetology in his distinguished career, authoring and co-authoring several books, book chapters, and numerous peer reviewed notes and articles, describing two new genera, and many new species, earning him a reputation as one of the most prominent herpetologists of his generation. His main research focus was morphology based systematics of amphibians and reptiles worldwide with emphasis on Texas, USA, Mexico, Central America, and South America, although bibliographies, conservation, ecology, life history and zoogeography have all been the subjects of his extensive publications.


A genus of lizards, Dixonius Bauer, Good & Branch, 1997, leaf-toed geckos from Southeast Asia, was named in his honor as well as several species of reptiles and amphibians, e.g., the white-lipped peeping frog, Eleutherodactylus dixoni Lynch, 1991 (= Eleutherodactylus albolabris); the gray checkered whiptail, Cnemidophorus dixoni Scudday, 1973 (= Aspidoscelis tesselata); Dixon's leaf-toed gecko, Phyllodactylus dixoni Rivero-Blanco & Lancini, 1968; and the large-eyed snake, Thamnodynastes dixoni Bailey and Thomas, 2007.[3]

Education and Early Career[edit]

Dixon attained his bachelor of science from Howard Payne University (1950), and then served in the Korean War (1951-1953). Upon returning from the war, he briefly acted as Curator of Reptiles at the Ross Allen Reptile Institute from 1954 to 1955. He earned his master's degree (1957) and PhD in (1961) from Texas A&M University. He was an Associate Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M from 1959 until 1961.


From 1961 until 1965 he was an Associate Professor of Wildlife Management at New Mexico State University and served as a consultant to the New Mexico state Game and Fisheries department. He was on the faculty of the University of Southern California and from 1965 until 1967 he was Curator of Herpetology at the Life Sciences Division at the Los Angeles County Museum in California. In 1967 he returned to Texas to become a professor at Texas A&M University, teaching Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and Curator of the Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection or TCWC (recently renamed Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections or BRTC). Over 20 herpetologists earned Ph.D.s studying under him at Texas A&M University. He has also served as President of several herpetological and naturalist societies including The Herpetologist League, Texas Herpetological Society, Texas Academy of Science; Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Southwestern Association of Naturalists, and on the Board of Directors of the Texas Systems of Natural Laboratories. He has also served on the faculty of Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas State University.

New genera of reptiles described by James R. Dixon.[edit]

Clawless Geckos, Crenadactylus. Dixon and Kluge, 1964.

Southwest Asian Leaf-toed Geckos, Asaccus. Dixon and Anderson, 1973.

A partial list of new amphibian and reptile species described by James R. Dixon.[edit]

Guerreran Peeping Frog, Eleutherodactylus dilates. (Davis and Dixon, 1955)

Great Peeping Frog, Eleutherodactylus grandis. (Dixon, 1957)

Reticulate Banded Gecko, Coleonyx reticulates. Davis and Dixon, 1958

Red Peeping Frog, Eleutherodactylus rufescens. (Duellman and Dixon, 1959)

Duellman's Pigmy Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus duellmani. Dixon, 1960

Belize Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus insularis. Dixon, 1960

Rio Marquez Valley Gecko, Phyllodactylus paucituberculatus. Dixon, 1960

Yellow-peppered Salamander, Ambystoma flavipiperatum. Dixon, 1963

Davis' Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus davisi. Dixon, 1964

Peninsula Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus nocticolus. Dixon, 1964

Nevado de Colima Chirping Frog, Eleutherodactylus nivicolimae. (Dixon and Webb, 1966)

Angei Island Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus angelensis. Dixon, 1966

Las Animas Island Gecko, Phyllodactylus apricus. Dixon, 1966

CatalinaIsland Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus bugastrolepis. Dixon, 1966

Isla Partida Norte Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus partidus. Dixon, 1966

SantaCruz Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus santacruzensis. Dixon, 1966

Raza Island Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus tinklei. Dixon, 1966

Honduras Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus palmeus. Dixon, 1968

Narrow Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus angustidigitus. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Cerro illescas Gecko, Phyllodactylus clinatus. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Andes Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus interandinus. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Rio Huancabamba Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus johnwrighti. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Coastal Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus kofordi. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus pumilus. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Lima Leaf-toed Gecko, Phyllodactylus sentosus. Dixon and Huey, 1970

Peru Clawed Gecko, Pseudogonatodes peruvianus. Huey and Dixon, 1970

Queretaran Desert Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus exsul. Dixon, Ketchersid, and Lieb, 1972

Tanzer's Night Snake, Hypsiglena tanzeri. Dixon and Lieb, 1972

Dixon's Bachia, Bachia huallagana. Dixon, 1973

Gray-marked Gecko, Asaccus griseonotus. Dixon and Anderson, 1973

Dixon's Anotosaura, Rhachisaurus brachylepis. (Dixon, 1974)

Vanzolini’s Anotosaura, Anotosaura vanzolinia. Dixon, 1974

Peru Keelback, Helicops yacu. Rossman and Dixon, 1975

Guyana Bachia, Bachia guianensis. Hoogmoed and Dixon, 1977

Pyburn's Tropical Forest Snake, Erythrolamprus pyburni. (Markezich and Dixon. 1979)

Basin Worm Snake, Typhlops minuisquamus. Dixon and Hendricks, 1979

Pernambuco Worm Snake, Typhlops paucisquamus. Dixon and Hendricks, 1979

Gallagher's Kentropyx, Kentropyx vanzoi. Gallagher and Dixon, 1980

Medem's Neusricurus, Neusticurus medemi. Dixon and Lamar, 1981

Ground Snake, Erythrolamprus andinus. (Dixon, 1983)

Ground Snake, Liotyphlops argaleus. Dixon and Kofron, 1984

Dixon's Ground Snake, Erythrolamprus atraventer. (Dixon and Thomas, 1985)

Maryellen's Ground Snake, Erythrolamprus maryellenae. (Dixon, 1985)

Vanzolini's Ground Snake, Lygophis vanzolinii. (Dixon, 1985)

Whiptail Lizard, Cnemidophorus gramivagus. McCrystal and Dixon, 1987

Cei’s Ground Snake, Erythrolamprus ceii. (Dixon, 1991)

Chaney’s Bunchgrass Lizard, Sceloporus chaneyi. Liner and Dixon, 1992

Laurent’s Sipo, Chironius laurenti. Dixon, Wiest, and Cei, 1993

South American Sipo, Chironius septentrionalis. Dixon, Wiest, and Cei, 1993

Chiapam Centipede Snake, Tantilla johnsoni. Wilson, Vaughn, and Dixon, 1999

Ground Snake, Erythrolamprus janaleeae. (Dixon, 2000)

Vitt’s Ground Snake, Erythrolamprus vitti. (Dixon, 2000)

Sierra de Tamaulipas Coralsnake, Micrurus tamaulipensis. Lavin-Murcio and Dixon, 2004

Webb’s Kingsnake, Lampropeltis webbi. Bryson, Dixon, and Lazcano, 2005

South American Rain Frog, Pristimantis waoranii. (McCracken, Forstner, and Dixon, 2007)


  1. ^ "Dr. James Dixon". Texas A&M Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. January 16, 2015. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Forstner, Michael R.J.; Lazcano, David; Thomas, Robert A. (2015). "In Memoriam: James Ray Dixon". The Southwestern Naturalist. 60 (1): 132–138. doi:10.1894/0038-4909-60.1.132. 
  3. ^ 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. ("Dixon", p. 73).
  • Altig, R. 2012. Academic Lineages of Doctoral Degrees in Herpetology (3rd. ed.) 471-564 pp. In Adler, K. Contributions to the History of Herpetology. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. 564 pp.
  • Bailey, J.R.; R.A. Thomas 2007. A revision of the South American snake genus Thamnodynastes Wagler, 1830 (Serpentes, Colubridae, Tachymenini). II. Three new species from northern South America, with further descriptions of Thamnodynastes gambotensis Pérez-Santos and Moreno and Tha Memoria de la Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales 166: 7-27.
  • Bauer A M. Good D A. Branch W R. 1997. The taxonomy of the Southern African leaf-toed geckos (Squamata: Gekkonidae), with a review of Old World "Phyllodactylus" and the description of five new genera. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 49 (14): 447-497.
  • Biographies of People Honored in the Herpetological Nomenclature in North America
  • McAllister, Chris T.; Forstner, Michael R.J. (2015). "In Memoriam: James Ray Dixon, A Texas Herpetological Icon (1928-2015)" (PDF). Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 10 (1): 1–25. 
  • Lynch, J. D. 1991. Three replacement names for preoccupied names in the genus Eleutherodactylus(Amphibia: Leptodactylidae). Copeia 1991: 1138-1139.
  • Rivero-Blanco, C. & A. R. Lancini. 1968 (1967). Phyllodactylus dixoni: una nueva especie de lagarto (Sauria: Gekkoninae) de Vene-zuela. Memoria de la Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle, 78, 168−175.
  • Scudday, J.F. 1973. A New Species of Lizard of the Cnemidophorus tesselatus Group from Texas. Journal of Herpetology 7 (4): 363-371.
  • Smith, H. M. and R. B. Smith. 1973. Synopsis of the Herpetofauna of Mexico, Vol. II: Analysis of the Literature Exclusive of the Mexican Axolotl. Eric Lundberg. Augusta, West Virginia. xxxiii, 367 pp.

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