Hobart Muir Smith, Titan In American Herpetology Dies At 100

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Hobart Muir Smith, Titan In American Herpetology Dies At 100

During a more than 75 year career, Smith wrote more than 1,600 publications on herpetology.

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Hobart Muir Smith, an American herpetologist who has been credited for describing more than 100 new species of reptiles and amphibians, has died. He was 100 years old. Smith started his career in 1932, graduating from Kansas State University with a bachelor's degree in science. He then went on and earned a master's degree and a doctorate at the University of Kansas where his thesis was a revision of the lizard genus Sceloporus.

In 1936, Smith and his colleagues wrote and published The Mexican and Central American Lizards of the Genus Sceloporus. In 1937, he was awarded a fellowship by the Smithsonian Institution which was used to collect animal specimens in Mexico. He served as a zoology professor at the Univesity of Rochester in New York during WWII, returning to the University of Kansas in 1945. Serving at the university as an associate professor, Smith wrote the Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the US and of Canada. The following year Smith went to Texas A&M University, where he wrote Checklist and key to snakes of Mexico and Checklist and key to amphibians of Mexico alongside Dr. Edward Harrison Taylor, his former professor at the University of Kansas. 


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His longest professional stint at a university occurred between 1947 and 1968, when he served as a professor of zoology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. In 1968 he retired from the university and moved to Colorado and became a biology professor at the University of Colorado and in 1972, became chairman of the university's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He retired again in 1983, becoming professor emeritus. During his professional career, he authored more than 1,600 papers, and 29 books.


Here is a selected list of his works

  • Checklist and key to snakes of Mexico (1945)
  •  Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the US and of Canada (1946)
  •  Checklist and key to amphibians of Mexico (1948)
  •  Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas (1950)
  •  Checklist and Key to Reptiles of Mexico Exclusive of Snakes (1950)
  •  Reptiles and Amphibians: A Guide to Familiar American Species with Herbert S. Zim (1953, 1956)
  •  Reptiles and Amphibians – A Guide to Familiar American Species (1958)
  •  Poisonous Amphibians and Reptiles (1959)
  •  Evolution of Chordate Structure (1961)
  •  Snakes as Pets (1965)
  •  Analysis of the Literature on the Mexican Axolotl (1971)
  •  Analysis of the Literature Exclusive of the Mexican Axolotl (1973)
  •  Source Analysis and Index for Mexican Reptiles (1976)
  •  Source Analysis and Index for Mexican Amphibians (1976)
  •  Guide to Mexican Amphisbaenians and Crocodilians (1977)
  •  Guide to Mexican Turtles (1980)
  •  Reptiles of North America – A Guide to Field Identification with Edmund D. Brodie, Jr. (1982)

One of Smith's last works was published in September 2012 to celebrate his 100th birthday. Titled "Some Notes on the Last Hundred Years and the Next Stages in the Evolution of Herpetology," the paper can be downloaded in PDF format here.