Laurence Monroe Klauber

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Laurence Monroe Klauber
Born December 21, 1883
San Diego, California
Died May 8, 1968
Nationality American
Fields Herpetology
Institutions San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Zoo

Laurence M. Klauber (1883 in San Diego, California – 1968), was an American herpetologist, and was considered to be the foremost authority on rattlesnakes. He was also a businessman, inventor, and may have been the first to make an important discovery in mathematics.

Businessman and inventor[edit]

Before becoming a herpetologist, Klauber worked for many years the San Diego Gas & Electric Company. He worked his way up in the company from an electric sign salesman, to become president, then chairman and CEO of the whole company. He also held 7 U.S. patents for his electrical inventions.


In 1923 the newly opened San Diego Zoo asked Klauber to identify several species of snake they acquired. Even though reptiles were not much more than a hobby to him at the time, he took the job and eventually became Curator of Reptiles at the zoo. In that position, he dedicated the following 35 years of his life to the study of reptiles, and rattlesnakes in particular. The end result of that incredible amount of time and amassed data was his magnum opus, a two volume set of books entitled Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories and Influence on Mankind, which he published in 1956. It is still considered to be the most complete and authoritative resource ever written on rattlesnakes.

In his research and field work, he is credited with identifying 53 new taxa of reptiles and amphibians (such as Arizona elegans candida, Chionactis palarostris, Pituophis catenifer pumilis, and Charina bottae umbratica) and has been recognized by his fellow herpetologists by having had 14 new taxa named after him (such as Crotalus lepidus klauberi, Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi, Hypsiglena torquata klauberi, and Sphaerodactylus klauberi). He donated approximately 36,000 specimens to the San Diego Natural History Museum, and his extensive personal library and field notes were donated there upon his death.

Photograph of the Klauber-Shaw Reptile House sign at the San Diego Zoo (building constructed with WPA funds in 1937).[1]


Klauber is thought to have proposed Ulam's spiral, an important diagram in which prime numbers tend to form diagonal lines, more than thirty years before Ulam, the mathematician credited with its invention.[2]


  1. ^ "San Diego Zoo Reptile House – San Diego CA". The Living New Deal. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Pegg, Jr., Ed (July 17, 2006). "Prime generating polynomials". Math Games. Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 5 July 2010.