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Dr. Carl Gans

Famous herpetologist Dr. Carl Gans passes.

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Dr. Carl Gans, 86, died peacefully after a long illness in Austin, Texas, on 30 November 2009. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in 1939. He attended George Washington High School in New York City, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineer from New York University in 1944, an Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineer from Columbia University in 1950, a PE License from New York State in 1950, and a Doctoral Degree in Biology from Harvard in 1957. He served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Command in the Philippines and Japan from 1944 to 1946. Gans was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow from 1953 to 1955 conducting reptile studies in Brazil. He became a Professor of Biology and Department Chairperson at the University of Buffalo (later SUNY) from 1958 to 1971. He moved to Ann Arbor as Professor of Biology and Chairperson of Zoology at the University of Michigan until his retirement in 1998.

Gan’s work and hundreds of publications were in evolutionary physiology and comparative biomechanics. He carried out his primary studies in the area of reptiles and amphibians.


He became world-known as editor of the journal “Morphology” for 25 years and as the editor of the monumental 23-volume “Biology of the Reptilia,” published between 1969 and 2009. His first book-length publication was “Biomechanics” in which he combined his engineering and biology backgrounds. He co-authored two biology texts used in universities throughout the United States: “A Photographic Atlas of Shark Anatomy” and “Electromyography for Experimentalists.” He also wrote the popular paperback book “Reptiles of the World,” translated into many languages. His library of over 20,000 items in herpetology is currently at Ben Gurion University in Israel, which also has his extensive scientific correspondence. Other of his publications are found at the Scripps Institute, University of California, San Diego, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.

His extensive animal collections, which he gathered on five continents over many decades, is at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburg, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.

Memorial Donations: The Carl Gans Award
The “Carl Gans Award” is associated with the Division of Comparative Biomechanics, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). This award, recently approved by the SICB Executive Committee, is the first such award for the newly founded Division of Comparative Biomechanics and honors the numerous scientific and editorial contributions to biomechanics and herpetology by Carl Gans. To date, they have raised approximately two-thirds of the $25,000 required for endowment of this award. Matching funds ($10,000) were made available by the late Carl Gans, his brother Leo Gans, and Sandy Gaunt that will provide a 2-for-1 match for the first $5,000 contributed, no matter how small that, in conjunction with the matching offer, will let SICB take advantage of this new funding opportunity and enable the award to be established financially. Contributed funds should be marked for the “Carl Gans Award” and be sent to the attention of the SICB Executive Director, Brett Burk (BBurk@BurkInc.com) at the address below. Send your contribution to:

Brett J. Burk
SICB Executive Director
1313 Dolley Madison Boulevard, Suite 402
McLean, Virginia 22101