Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Mertens, Robert (Germany 1894-1975)

Very little seems to have been written by or about Mertens in the English language, which is too bad because he was one of the twentieth century's greatest herpetologists. He was most interested in the natural history and systematics of lizards (especially varanids, lacertids, and geckos), but also produced more general works covering all herpetological groups. Mertens traveled widely--seemingly to all places where herps were important elements in the landscape--later releasing monographic reviews of the reptile and amphibian faunas of, among other places, El Salvador, Southwest Africa (Namibia), Australia, Peru, Spain, Germany, the Sunda Islands (Indonesia), and West Pakistan. He was especially known for his studies on island and tropical reptile forms (extending to their habits, ecology, and biogeography), and for his phylogenetic reconstructions and writings on evolutionary theory. He had a strong interest in coloration studies, and a form of mimicry is named after him.

Life Chronology

--born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 1 December 1894.
--1912-1915: science student at the University of Leipzig
--1916: Ph.D. in zoology, University of Leipzig
--1919-1925: research assistant at the Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt am Main
--1925: named curator of reptiles at the Senckenberg Museum
--1927: takes part in Bernhard Rensch's expedition to the Sunda Islands, Indonesia
--1932-1939: lecturer, University of Frankfurt
--1934: publishes his Die Insel-Reptilien, Ihre Ausbreitung, Variation, und Artbildung
--1935: made head of the department of zoology at the Senckenberg Museum
--1937, 1939: field studies in Haiti and Cameroon
--1939: advanced to associate professor, University of Frankfurt
--1946-1959: director of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Nature Museum
--1948: publishes his Die Tierwelt des Tropischen Regenwaldes
--1952: publishes his Kriechtiere und Lurche
--1953: promoted to professor at the University of Frankfurt
--1959: publishes his La Vie des Amphibiens et Reptiles (translated into English and published in 1960 as The World of Amphibians and Reptiles)
--1960: elected to the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina; publishes his Die Amphibien und Reptilien Europas, with H. Wermuth
--1961: publishes his Schildkröten, Krokodile, Brückenchsen, with H. Wermuth
--dies at Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on 23 August 1975.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of German Biography, Vol. 7 (2004).
--Senckenbergiana Biologica, Band 45(3/5) (1964): 193-611.
--Copeia, (2) (1976): 420.
--Robert Mertens, Sein Leben und Werk (1977).

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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