Paulus Edward Pieris Deraniyagala

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Paulus Edward Pieris Deraniyagala (1900–1976) was Sri Lankan paleontologist, zoologist, and artist.

He was born in Colombo, the son of Sir Paul Edward Pieris, civil servant and scholar, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained a BA in 1922 and an MA in 1923. He entered Harvard University for a year where he was awarded MA in 1924.

He specialised in fauna and human fossils of the Indian subcontinent. From 1939 to 1963 he was the Director of the National Museum of Ceylon, and from 1961 to 1964 he was also the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Vidyodaya University.

Among the fossils and species he described, there are:

During his trips to China, he studied the Chinese alligator and published a new genus name for it. In the scientific field of herpetology he described many new species of lizards and snakes.[1]

He served as President of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society from 1952 to 1955.[2]

He was married to Prini Molamure; their son Siran Upendra Deraniyagala is also a famous scientist, specialising in archeology.

Deraniyagala is commemorated in the scientific names of three species of Sri Lankan reptiles: Aspidura deraniyagalae, Lankascincus deraniyagalae, and Nessia deraniyagalai.[3]


  1. ^ "Deraniyagala". The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ "Past Presidents". Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  3. ^ 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. ("Deraniyagala", p. 70).

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