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1 Aug 2014

It’s official now:: the database contains now more than 10,000 species with the the 10,000th entry being Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi SCHNEIDER et al. 2014 from Laos. More precisely, we now have ...

10,038 species (including 79 described this year), up from 9,952 in April
34,104 references (including 698 published this year), up from 33,558 in April.

New country checklists: The country checklists for several countries have been updated, namely for Namibia (Herrmann & Branch 2013, J. Arid Environments 93: 94–115), Uruguay (Carreira et al. 2012, Bol. Soc. Zool. Uruguay, 21: 9-29), and Nepal (Kästle et al. 2013, Field guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Nepal, ARCO-Nepal).

Selected taxonomic news

Agamidae: now all species mapped to subfamilies (with help from Philip Wagner and Ulrich Manthey).

Gerrhosauridae: now following Bates et al. 2013, including 2 new genera, Broadleysaurus Bates & Tolley gen. nov. and Matobosaurus Bates & Tolley gen. nov.

Gekkonidae: new genera: Kolekanos Heinicke et al. 2014, and Ramigekko Heinicke et al. 2014

Gymnophthalmidae: now all species mapped to subfamilies (with help from to Tiffany Doan).

Turtles: Now following the turtle checklist by TTWG 2014 (which now has maps too!)

Typhlopidae: after Hedges et al. 2014 recently proposed several new genera and other taxonomic changes, many of them have been reverted and otherwise changed by Pyron & Wallach 2014 who also proposed a new genus, Lemuriatyphlops.

Snakes: We have accommodated a few changes used by the new snake book by Wallach et al. More details in our next newsletter.

The splitting continues: several species groups have been split up, including but not limited to Pelomedusa subrufa (now 10 species), Blanus, Crotalus triseriatus, Hemidactylus fasciatus, Lampropeltis, and others. Not all of them are in the database yet but we are working on it.

Global checklist: An updated global checklist of all reptiles with their higher taxa is now available as an Excel spreadsheet: http://www.reptile-database.org/data/reptile_checklist_2014_08.xls.zip

New books received:

Starace, Fausto (2013)
Guide des Serpents et Amphisbènes de Guyane.
Ibis Rouge Editions, Matoury, Guyane, 604 pp.
ISBN 978-2-84450-407-4

The Reptile Database in teaching. The fall semester is upon us and if you are teaching a class in herpetology (or taxonomy), you may as well use the database as a teaching tool. We have students do research by curating papers, editing Wikipedia pages (that link to the Reptile Database), ID species, or find and analyze other information. We always have a large backlog of papers that need to be curated, including simple cases with new distribution data or more complicated ones. Please get in touch if you are interested. We plan to set up a separate web page with teaching tools in the near future.

JMIH 2014: If you happen to be at the 2014 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists which takes place in Chattanooga, TN, until Sunday, please stop by. We have a poster there and welcome feedback.

1 May 2014

From the Weather Channel: 12 Deadly Animals that May Save Your Life

23 April 2014

9952 species (including 30 described this year), up from 9,904 in December
33,558 references (including 281 published this year), up from 32,480 in December (that’s 1,078 new references!).

You can see the list of new species here. Note that the 30 new species this year were described in 27 papers, of which an astonishing 25 were published in Zootaxa. By comparison, the 123 new species of 2013 were described in 90 papers of which only 49 were published in Zootaxa.

Subspecies vs species: In this release we have again elevated a number of subspecies to species level as these new “species” become more widely accepted (hence we have added more species to this release than were described as "new"). Shannon Torstrom and colleagues (2014) discussed the impact of genetics and species concepts in their recent paper, “Shedding subspecies: The influence of genetics on reptile subspecies taxonomy”. While it is generally accepted that genetics should help to define species boundaries, Torstrom et al. “found that the midpoint genetic distances used for elevation ranged from 1.0% to 19.4%. However, the large difference between the median genetic distances used to elevate a subspecies (6.4%) compared to collapsing a subspecies (1.0%)” shows that genetic differences have been applied on a case-by-case basis rather than by using absolute numbers.

Torstrom et al. also remind us that both mammals and birds have about 2 subspecies per species, a ratio that is dramatically different from reptiles which have less than 0.3 subspecies per species. It is unlikely that this reflects a biological difference but rather a “sociological” or philosophical one.

In any case, we will reach the 10,000 species mark later this year. Notably, Australia will reach their own landmark with 1,000 species shortly (currently at 996).

Selected taxonomic news

Boas and pythons: Reynolds et al. 2014 proposed some signficant changes to the taxonomy of boas and pythons including a rearrangement of the genera Bothrochilus, Liasis, Morelia, and Sanzinia. They also described a new genus, Malayopython (including M. reticulatus, M. timoriensis) and resurrected the genus Simalia for S. amethistina, S. boeleni, S. clastolepis, S. kinghorni, S. nauta, S. oenpelliensis, and S. tracyae.

Blindsnakes: Hedges et al. 2014 proposed a new classification of the blindsnakes (Typhlopidae), currently containing 258 species. They erected a number of new subfamilies as well as 8 new genera: Indotyphlops, Malayotyphlops, Sundatyphlops, Xerotyphlops, Madatyphlops, Amerotyphlops, Antillotyphlops, and Cubatyphlops. Note that some common species are also affected, e.g. Ramphotyphlops braminus has been renamed to Indotyphlops braminus.

Turtles: Iverson et al. 2013 erected the genus Cryptochelys for a subset of Kinosternon. However, Spinks et al. 2014 rejected this genus based on phylogenetic gounds and revalidated Kinosternon for the 6 species of Cryptochelys.

Thomas et al. 2014 described 2 new species of Macrochelys, or rather split up the Alligator Snapping Turtle, Macrochelys temminckii, into 3 species. A similar split has been previously suggested by Raymond Hoser although this was rejected by Thomas et al. See the Taxacom mailing list and other online fora or a debate about priority and related issues in this case.

Skinks: Blair Hedges (2014) proposed a new classification of skinks using a system of 9 families: Acontidae (26 species), Egerniidae (58), Eugongylidae (418), Lygosomidae (52), Mabuyidae (190), Sphenomorphidae (546), and Scincidae (273) as well as the two new families Ristellidae fam. nov. (14 species) and Ateuchosauridae fam. nov. (2 species). Members of the Ristellidae (Lankascincus, Ristella) have been considered as members of the Mabuyidae (or Mabuyinae) while the family Ateuchosauridae is composed of only one genus, Ateuchosaurus, previously included in Scincinae/Scincidae. The 7 other skink families suggested by Hedges are equivalent to the current skink subfamilies in the Reptile Database (Acontidae = Acontinae etc.).

A survey among skink specialists revealed some skepticism about the new arrangement and recommended to wait for more data to support the two new families, hence we haven’t adopted them yet. However, we did make a few adjustments following Hedges as a few genera were still in the wrong (sub-) family, such as Ablepharus and Lobulia (previously in Sphenomorphinae, now in Eugongylinae).

Note that skink taxonomy remains in flux. For instance, the classification used by Pyron et al. (2013) included only 3 subfamilies (Acontinae, Lygosominae, Scincinae), e.g. with the large subfamily Lygosominae encompassing most of the Sphenomorphinae as currently in the database.

Diploglossidae: We finally implemented the family Diploglossidae as separate from the Anguidae (Anguinae, Gerrhonotinae) as suggested by various authors (e.g. Vidal & Hedges 2009 but as early as 1890 in Bronn’s "Klassen und Ordnungen des Thier-Reichs”). The Diploglossidae contain the genera Celestus, Diploglossus, and Ophiodes.

New database features

The Reptile Database now displays links to the NCBI taxonomy database in its species entries, which lead you directly to GenBank entries. You can find an example at the bottom of Acanthodactylus blanfordii. Currently 5,039 species have NCBI taxon IDs, a number that will be updated (and thus increase) shortly. Also, in the example you can also see that we have broken out the etymologies of species names into a separate field.

Photos. We have again a large number of new photos (>1,500). However, they are added to the database independently of text, and thus have not been updated. This will probably take another few weeks or so, just in case you do not see the photos that you have submitted. Hint: more photos are always welcome :)

Global checklist: An updated global checklist of all reptiles with their higher taxa is now available as an Excel spreadsheet: http://www.reptile-database.org/data/reptile_checklist_2014_04.xls.zip

Database downloads: You can now download older versions of the database as tab-delimited text files from
Figshare (via our Download page). Only a few older versions from 2008-2010 are currently available but more recent ones will follow shortly. These archives may come in handy if publications have cited older versions of the Reptile Database and you try to reproduce their results.

Other notable recent publications

Reptile pet trade statistics. Herrel & van der Meijden (2014) just published an interesting analysis of the reptile and amphibian trade in the USA and other parts of the world. They found that an average of 7 million individual animals have been imported into the US from 2001 to 2008 while an average of 14 million individuals have been exported during the same time. Of the top-exported species, Trachemys scripta, 48 million individuals were exported by the US from 2001 to 2009. For some popular species captive-bred specimens provide the majority of individuals (e.g. Iguana iguana) but for others (such as Python regius) the vast majority are from the wild.

Another study arrives at somewhat different estimates for exported turtles from the US: Mali et al. 2014 estimate that the two top-exporting states (Louisiana and California) exported about 10 million turtles per year from 2002 to 2013.

New books received from our sponsors:

Kästle, W., Rai, K. & Schleich, H.H. 2013 Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Nepal. ARCO-Nepal e.V., 625 pp.

Borer, M. 2013 Madagaskarboas Acrantophis und Sanzinia. KUS-Verlag, 136 pp.
Schlüter, U. 2013 Madagaskarleguane. KUS-Verlag, 85 pp. (about the family Opluridae)
Schlüter, U. 2013 Buntleguane. KUS-Verlag, 77 pp. (about the genus Polychrus)

Herz, Mario 2013 Maurische Landschildkröten - Testudo graeca. NTV, Münster, 142 pp.
Zollweg, M. & Kühne, H. 2013 Krokodilschwanzechsen - Shinisaurus crocodilurus. NTV, Münster, 95 pp.
Wirth, M. 2013 Das Schildkrötenjahr. NTV, Münster, 279 pp.
Röll, B. 2013 Tagaktive Zwerggeckos der Gattung Lygodactylus. NTV, 118 pp.
Also, please note their series Art für Art on individual species, such as geckos.

Reptiles on Noah’s Ark: Lastly, while we are not sure whether this is a good thing, we did get cited by Tom Hennigan who tried to estimate the number of reptile species that were on Noah’s ark in the Creationist journal “Answers” (a pdf is available too). Luckily, Noah did not have to deal with today’s snake taxonomy to decide which species to rescue. Nevertheless, Hennigan concludes (without much evidence) that “41 extant snake kinds may have been brought on the Ark”. Halleluja!

9 Jan 2014

We've got some publicity! See notes in VCU News, VCU Spectrum, and Phys.org (despite the slight mishap that the article stated that reptiles will become the most diverse vertebrates in 2014; this should have read "the most diverse tetrapods", of course, since there are still 3 times more fish species than reptiles species :)

On a more technical side, there are a number of new species since our last release (not in the online database yet):

Ameiva aggerecusans KOCH et al. 2013
Ameiva nodam KOCH, VENEGAS et al. 2013
Amphisbaena littoralis ROBERTO 2014
Anolis peucephilus KÖHLER et al. 2014
Aprasia litorea MARYAN et al. 2013
Cnemaspis selamatkanmerapoh GRISMER et al. 2013

Darevskia caspica AHMADZADEH et al. 2013
Darevskia kamii AHMADZADEH et al. 2013
Darevskia kopetdaghica AHMADZADEH et al. 2013
Darevskia schaekeli AHMADZADEH et al. 2013
Heteronotia atra PEPPER et al. 2013
Heteronotia fasciolatus PEPPER et al. 2013
Liolaemus chavin AGUILAR et al. 2013
Liolaemus pachacutec AGUILAR et al. 2013
Liolaemus wari AGUILAR et al. 2013
Phrynocephalus ananjevae MELNIKOV et al. 2013
Saltuarius eximius HOSKIN & COUPER 2013
Stenocercus arndti VENEGAS et al. 2014
Stenodactylus sharqiyahensis METALLINOU & CARRANZA 2013

Our next release is slated for early March 2014.

8 Dec 2013

9,904 species (including 104 described this year), up from 9,831 in July.
32,480 references (including 1038 published this year), up from 31,756 in July.

New species: Many new species are (again) the result of splitting, e.g. the splits of Sphenomorphus decipiens, Plica plica, or Anniella pulchra. There seems to be no slowdown in therms of splitting, something that can be seen in other recent descriptions. For instance, Lee Grismer et al. 2013 described Hemiphyllodactylus tehtarik sp. nov. but also identified up to 10 other new species which they preliminarily only called Hemiphyllodactylus sp. 1-10. Similarly, Šmíd et al. 2013 described a new species, Hemidactylus ulii, but mentioned another 11 potentially new species of Hemidactylus, preliminarily called “sp. 1-11”.

The unabated series of descriptions does not stop here. Since the deadline for this release just a week ago, another 3 new species have been published that did not make it into this release, bringing the number of new species to 108 so far this year. We are clearly headed towards the 10,000 species mark next year!
Let us know if we missed anything (including other taxonomic changes).

Distribution data. We have added a few updated country and state checklists, e.g. for Bhutan (Lenz 2012), Durango (Valdez Lares et al. 2013), and Benin (Hughes 2013). By the way, we are working hard to replace our current (clearly unsatisfactory) maps. New maps will start to go online early next year.

More reptile genomes. 2013 has been the year of the reptile genome. Since our last update, we have seen a draft genome of the Chinese Alligator, Alligator sinensis (Wan et al., 6 August 2013). The genome has 2.3 GB and encodes an estimated 22,000 genes. See also the comment by Todd Castoe and David Pollock. Todd Castoe et al. and Freek Vonk et al. also just published the first snake genomes, namely that of the Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) and of the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) just a few days ago. Science magazine and many other news media have covered this extensively. In our last 2 newsletters we already noted the publication of several turtle genomes, namely those of Chrysemys picta bellii, Chelonia mydas and Pelodiscus sinensis.

Photos. This release of the Reptile Database has gained 651 new photos, representing 416 new species from 93 contributors. This increases the number of species for which he have photos (internally) by more than 10%, from 2,437 to 2,659!! That is, we have photos of 27% of all reptile species on our server, plus another 13,000 or so which we pull in (automatically) from other web sites or to which we have links. In other words, there are

- 6,967 photos in the Reptile Database proper
- 1,454 links to other sites
- 2,800 photos from CalPhotos
- 898 from Reptarium
- 2,745 photos from Flickr

That is, we now provide photos of 3,888 reptile species (39% of all species when external photos are counted too).
On this occasion we have to thank our top-16 photographers who have all contributed more than 100 photos each, namely

Michael Franzen (458 photos)
Pedro Bernardo (285)
Wayne Van Devender (284)
Richard Sage (258)
Paul Freed (174)
Patrick Prévost (166)
Boris Klusmeyer (161)
Ashok Captain (145)
David Jandzik (144)
Gernot Vogel (129)
Ingo Kober (129)
Daniel Jablonski (128)
Jairo Maldonado (122)
Peter Uetz (115)
Fernando Castro (111)
Andrej Susor (103)

Overall, more than 400 people have submitted photos to the Reptile Database. In addition to the people listed above, 20 photographers have submitted more than 50 photos. If you want to contribute any photos, please take a look at this list of species for which we need photos.

Sadly, one of our photo contributors, Vladimir Kharin, prominent Russian sea snake expert, has passed away this year.

Deforestation. Although only indirectly related to reptile biodiversity, Matt Hansen from the University of Maryland found that in the past decade about 1.5 million sqkm of forest have been cleared globally. That’s about the area of central Europe. Here you can see where this happened (and how it likely affected reptiles as well): http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest

New books. After several years of gestation, Fabrizio Li Vigni finally had his book “A Life for Reptiles and Amphibians” published. It contains 55 interviews with more or less prominent herpetologists, including one with Peter Uetz, who also provides a few details on the history of the Reptile Database.

Global checklist: As previously, an updated global checklist of all reptiles with their higher taxa is now available as an Excel spreadsheet: http://www.reptile-database.org/data/reptile_checklist_2013_12.xls.zip.

That said, we are looking forward to the next year, for which we expect a series of exciting new features in the Reptile Database. Please also take a look at our Volunteering page for some ideas how you can help. Thanks!

28 July 2013

9,831 species (up from 9,789 in April, i.e. plus 42, including resurrections etc.).
31,756 literature references (+441) including 386 papers published in 2013.

Since the last release (in April) we have also updated distribution information for 758 and edited or updated the type information of 595 species (7517 species now with type information).

Taxonomic news and name changes

In this release a total of 232 names have changed compared to the April release. A complete list can be found here. All new species described in 2013 are available also via our search engine.

Some selected changes that affect genera and generic arrangements:

Internal news:

NCBI taxon IDs: we have been working with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to include the NCBI taxon ID in each species record. A little over half of all reptile species have such IDs. Most importantly, the taxonID links a species name to DNA sequences. The taxon IDs are not available in the Reptile Database yet but should be in the next release.

New names for higher taxa: We incorporated the higher names Colubroidea and the corresponding family names such as Natricidae (previously Natricinae) etc. One practical improvement is that colubrid subfamilies (Colubrinae, Calamariinae, Grayiinae, Sibynophiinae) can now be found more easily. If you are looking for what used to be “Colubridae” you can now search for Colubroidea which is basically the same thing.

The Catalogue of Life has been finally updated with the Reptile Database taxonomy. Because of the various data conversions there may still be a few oddities in the dataset. Let us know if you notice anything. The CoL also released a new DVD with all the Annual Checklist, including the reptiles from the Reptile Database. A download version is available .

More turtle genomes: Just 2 months after the genome of Chrysemys picta bellii, draft genomes of Chelonia mydas and Pelodiscus sinensis have been published by Wang et al. 2013, Nature Genetics 45 (6): 701-706.

Phylogenetic trees: We would love to have phylogenetic trees in the database. The only reason why we don’t have any is lack of manpower. This is even more important as trees are often difficult to find, even if they have been published. Bryan Drew recently estimated that “64% of all existing alignments or trees are permanently lost” although he didn’t specify what the fraction of trees was or what “existing” means (Nature 493: 305, 17 Jan 2013).

Web services. We have set up a web service that allows users or computers to request automatic responses about the status of a species name (or synonym). For instance, a computer can send the following request:


Our web service will respond with this status message:

{"response":"VALID","description":"Specified taxon has been found as valid taxon."}

For instance, this can be used by a museum that maintains an online specimen database. Whenever someone enters a new specimen the database could automatically send a status request to the the Reptile Database to check whether the name is current.

Type species of genera: In order to define reptile genera better, we have added the type species of 756 genera to the respective species records (representing 8,099 species). There are 400 genera left without type species designations and we hope to complete them by the next release. Note that many of these entries have diagnoses for the genus too, although for quite a few genera there are no useful (morphological) diagnoses at all. Example: Acontias meleagris. Please send us generic diagnoses if we don’t have them.

Subspecies vs. species. The number of species with subspecies keeps going down. Currently 1,178 reptile species have a total of 2,714 subspecies (not counting nominate subspecies), i.e. there are a total of 12,355 valid reptile taxa total. Five years ago (in 2008) there were 1,314 species with a total of 3,197 subspecies. While many of them have been elevated to full species status, a number of them have been synonymized. Elevating subspecies to species makes curation of the database easier, but we often postpone such elevations simply because we do not have enough information (or not enough time to track down this information). For instance, many papers elevate subspecies based on DNA sequence divergence without providing any updated diagnoses or ranges (maps). If you see such cases, please send us such updates.

Volunteers needed: With a backlog of about 700 papers we have trouble keeping up! If you want to help out, let us know with your area of interest, so we can send you a few papers to curate. Most importantly, we need your help to extract taxonomically important information which you then should send in a format that we can easily add to the database (e.g. new/changed names, references, distribution data, etc.). We are working on a partly automated system to ask authors for help, but it may take a little while until this is in place. See http://www.reptile-database.org/db-info/volunteering.html for more details.

Journal tracking. We regularly track a number of journals to keep our database up to date. However, the list is by no means exhaustive. Let us know if we miss any important titles.

Global checklist: an updated global checklist of all reptiles with their higher taxa is now available as an Excel spreadsheet.

Photos. We have received hundreds of new photos. However, since they are updated separately and since there are so many it may take a few more weeks until they all become available online. Apologies to the many photographers who have sent us reptile photos!

Post scriptum: Does counting species count as taxonomy? In January, Mark Costello published a paper, "Can We Name Earth's Species Before They Go Extinct?" (Science 339: 413, 2013). We won't comment on this paper (or subsequent responses, e.g. Mora et al., Science 341: 237, 19 July 2013) but would like to mention an unusual follow-up by Carvalho et al., "Does counting species count as taxonomy? On misrepresenting systematics, yet again" (Cladistics, 28 June 2013). While the Reptile Database is certainly counting species we also try to provide a service to taxonomy in order to achieve its mission, namely to document biodiversity. Although Carvalho et al. see a "proliferation of inadequate descriptions", we feel that even adequate descriptions are increasingly useless without proper databases (a.k.a. "counting species").

31 March 2013

9,789 species (up from 9,741, i.e. plus 48, including resurrections etc.).
31,315 literature references (+674), including 89 published in 2013.

We have also updated the synonymies of 1960 entries since last time (mostly by adding chresonyms), added references to 1270 species, updated the distribution of 252 species, and edited the comments of 380 species. Overall, almost 4000 species have been edited since the last update, ... which actually even surprises us!

Selected taxonomic news and changes

New species in 2013.

Anolis. After serious contemplation (and consultation with several experts) we changed the names of anoles back to Anolis. For some reasons see Poe et al. (2013) Zootaxa 3626 (2): 295–299

Teiidae. The names of many teiids have changed following the suggestions of Harvey et al. (2012) Zootaxa 3459: 1–156. However, we are already getting complaints that this may not be tenable...

Hydrophiinae. This was done already in December 2012, but do note that the names of many sea snakes have been changed too, following Sanders et al. (2013) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (3): 575-591

Laudakia. We also changed the names of many Ladakia species, following Baig et al. (2012) Vertebrate Zoology 62 (2): 213-260

Australia. We went through all Australian names and updated them, if necessary, based on Wilson & Swan (2010) and a few more recent taxon-specific papers. The last whole-sale review of Australia was based on Cogger (2000) so this needed some verification.

Plestiodon. Now up to date based on Brandley (2012) Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 165 (1): 163-189.

Hoser names. We follow Kaiser et al. (2013) synonymizing most of the names that Raymond Hoser has proposed over the past years, but most recently in a series of papers published in 2012. See Kaiser (2013) Herpetological Review 44 (1): 8-23, for details or simply search the database for reference = Hoser.

Palearctic naked-toed geckos (Cyrtopodion etc.). Revised based on Bauer et al. (2013) Zootaxa 3599 (4): 301–324.

Hobart Smith (1912-2013) has passed away in early March. Until recently he was probably the most productive reptile alpha taxonomist alive with more than 100 new reptiles described (Uetz 2010, Zootaxa 2334: 59–68) and reportedly more than 1500 papers published. Aaron Bauer now holds this crown with about 125 new species, even though he has to catch up in terms of papers :)

Genomics. A bit off-topic, but the first turtle genome and the second reptile genome has just been published. It’s not in the database yet, but it’s still exciting! See http://genomebiology.com/2013/14/3/R28/abstract for details.

Internal News:

Biocuration 2013. We will have a poster at the Biocuration 2013 meeting in Cambridge, UK, April 7-10, in case you want to stop by.

Volunteers needed! With a backlog of about 700 papers we have trouble keeping up! If you want to help out, let us know with your area of interest, so we can send you a few papers to curate. Most importantly, we need your help to extract taxonomically important information which you then should send in a format that we can easily add to the database (e.g. new/changed names, references, distribution data, etc.). We are working on a partly automated system to ask authors for help, but it may take a little while until this is in place.

Internships: We have openings for 1 or 2 paid internships, at least for a couple of months. However, you will be required to show up in Richmond, VA, at least once.

Global checklist: With this release, we have posted a global checklist of all reptiles with their higher taxa online. It’s available as an Excel spreadsheet here.

Literature database: As indicated, we have now more than 31,000 references in the reptile database. More than 15,000 are available via weblinks (although often via commercial publishers). Send us URLs of your web pages if you make your own papers available online or send us links to BHL when they are missing in our database. Here are a few stats:

Reptile Database references March 2013 References per species

17 Jan 2013

More new species, not in the online database yet:




Paroedura stellata HAWLITSCHEK & GLAW 2012

25 Dec 2012 (updated from email announcement, 24 Dec 2012)

9,741 species (up from 9,670, i.e. plus 71, including resurrections etc.).
30,641 literature references (+531), including 701 published in 2012.

This year 168 new reptile species have been described (so far). Please find this year's new species here. Note, however, that we received 15 new species after we released this version just a few days ago. The following species have therefore not been added to the online database yet:

Acontias schmitzi WAGNER et al. 2012
Amphisbaena maranhensis GOMES & MACIEL 2012
Brachyorrhos wallacei MURPHY 2012
Calamophis katesandersae MURPHY 2012
Calamophis ruuddelangi MURPHY 2012
Calamophis sharonbrooksae MURPHY 2012
Cyrtodactylus hikidai RIYANTO 2012
Cyrtopodion hormozganum NAZAROV et al. 2012
Cyrtodactylus minor OLIVER & RICHARDS 2012
Eirenis (Pediophis) kermanensis RAJABIZADEH et al. 2012
Gehyra multiporosa DOUGHTY et al. 2012
Gehyra spheniscus DOUGHTY et al. 2012
Gekko remotus RÖSLER et al. 2012
Plestiodon finitimus OKAMOTO & HIKIDA 2012
Vipera olguni TUNIYEV et al. 2012

BTW, now this is officially a record year, exceeding the previous all-time record 166 new species of 2007. Let us know if we missed anything!

Furthermore, we have added 444 photos from 62 photographers since the last update (now 6,321) representing 2437 species (up from 2278 species) to our own photo collection. Since we also pull in more than 7,000 photos from other sites such as Calphotos or Flickr, we have now more than 3,500 species of reptiles (or about 36%) represented by photos.

For the first time, we have looked into which specific changes have been since the previous version: Of the 9,741 species entries, 1107 have additions or changes to the synonymy, 189 received updates in their distribution data, 719 comments were edited, and 881 species had references added. Overall, more than 1,800 species entries (or 19%) were thus edited within one update cycle.

Taxonomic news

Since the last database release 493 names have been added or have changed, including 62 new species, and 95 other changes such as elevations of subspecies to species status, resurrections, or simply changes in gender. The remaining 336 changes are changed Anolis names.

Anolis revision: The most noteable change affected Anolis. We have preliminarily adopted the new Anolis names from Nicholson et al. (2012), even though these changes remain controversial. These authors split Anolis into 8 genera, among which Anolis now holds only 52 species. While this is phylogenetically more informative than a single large genus Anolis, it is unfortunately of limited use, if not confusing, due to unsatisfactory diagnoses of at least some of these new genera.

For more details, go to the extensive discussions in the Anole Annals blog.

Among the many changes, it is notable that we finally sunk Sphenodon guntheri into S. punctatus, so there is only one Tuatara left.

Other news:

The ICZN does now accept electronic publications: ZooKeys and Zootaxa published the amendment to the Code simultaneously. It now permits electronic publication of new taxa and nomenclatural acts, under the following key conditions:

(1) Registration of the publication in ZooBank
(2) Archiving of the orginal publicatiion in an archive other than publisher's website
(3) The publishing outlet to bear an ISSN or ISBN number

Access problems. In a few cases users had problems accessing the database, specifically the site at reptarium.cz. It turned out that these users had IP addresses that belongs to a range of IP addresses that had been abused at some point and were thus blocked. So, if you ever have problems accessing the database, please try another provider, if possible. At least this may help you to figure out where the problem is.

The Name changes in this revision (including resurrections, elevations from subspecies status, gender changes):

Adelphicos latifasciatum LYNCH & SMITH 1966
Adelphicos quadrivirgatum JAN 1862
Agama africana (HALLOWELL 1844)
Agama boensis (MONARD 1940)
Amphisbaena albocingulata BOETTGER 1885
Bothrops rhombeatus (GARCIA 1896)
Brachymeles hilong BROWN & RABOR 1967
Brachymeles suluensis (TAYLOR 1918)
Carlia inconnexa (INGRAM & CAVACEVICH 1989)
Cerberus schneiderii (SCHLEGEL 1837)
Cercosaura dicra (UZZELL 1973)
Charina umbratica KLAUBER 1943
Coluber fuliginosus COPE 1895
Corallus batesii (GRAY 1860)
Corallus grenadensis (BARBOUR 1914)
Correlophus ciliatus (GUICHENOT 1866)
Correlophus sarasinorum ROUX 1913
Crotalus ornatus HALLOWELL 1854
Cyrtodactylus tibetanus (BOULENGER 1905)
Dasypeltis latericia TRAPE & MANÉ 2006
Dendrophidion clarkii DUNN 1933
Diporiphora amphiboluroides LUCAS & FROST 1902
Draco abbreviatus HARDWICKE & GRAY 1827
Elapsoidea chelazziorum LANZA 1979
Elgaria cedrosensis (FITCH 1934)
Emys marmorata (BAIRD & GIRARD 1852)
Furcifer major (BRYGOO 1971)
Gekko subpalmatus (GÜNTHER 1864)
Gloydius liupanensis LIU, SONG & LUO 1989
Harpesaurus modiglianii VINCIGUERRA 1933
Holbrookia elegans BOCOURT 1874
Hydrophis belcheri (GRAY 1849)
Hydrophis bituberculata (PETERS 1872)
Hydrophis caerulescens (SHAW 1802)
Hydrophis coggeri KHARIN 1984
Hydrophis curtus (SHAW 1802)
Hydrophis cyanocincta (DAUDIN 1803)
Hydrophis czeblukovi KHARIN 1984
Hydrophis elegans (GRAY 1842)
Hydrophis hardwickii GRAY 1834
Hydrophis inornata GRAY 1849
Hydrophis jerdonii GRAY 1849
Hydrophis kingii (BOULENGER 1896)
Hydrophis laboutei (RASMUSSEN & INEICH 2000)
Hydrophis lamberti (SMITH 1917)
Hydrophis lapemoides (GRAY 1849)
Hydrophis major (SHAW 1802)
Hydrophis mamillaris (DAUDIN 1803)
Hydrophis melanocephala (GRAY 1849)
Hydrophis ornata (GRAY 1842)
Hydrophis pacifica (BOULENGER 1896)
Hydrophis peronii (DUMÉRIL 1853)
Hydrophis platura (LINNAEUS 1766)
Hydrophis schistosa (DAUDIN 1803)
Hydrophis semperi (GARMAN 1881)
Hydrophis sibauensis (RASMUSSEN, AULIYA & BÖHME 2001)
Hydrophis spiralis (SHAW 1802)
Hydrophis stokesii (GRAY 1846)
Hydrophis stricticollis (GÜNTHER 1864)
Hydrophis torquata (GÜNTHER 1864)
Hydrophis viperina (SCHMIDT 1852)
Hydrophis zweifeli KHARIN 1985
Hypoptophis wilsonii BOULENGER 1908
Latastia caeruleopunctata (PARKER 1935)
Macroprotodon mauritanicus GUICHENOT 1850
Mniarogekko chahoua (BAVAY 1869)
Mochlus grandisonianum (LANZA & CARFI 1966)
Mochlus guineensis (PETERS 1879)
Mochlus mabuiiforme (LOVERIDGE 1935)
Mochlus mocquardi (CHABANAUD 1917)
Mochlus paedocarinatum (LANZA & CARFI 1968)
Mochlus productum (BOULENGER 1909)
Mochlus simonettai (LANZA 1979)
Mochlus somalicum (PARKER 1942)
Mochlus tanae (LOVERIDGE 1935)
Mochlus vinciguerrae (PARKER 1932)
Paniegekko madjo BAUER, JONES & SADLIER 2000
Paraphimophis rustica (COPE 1878)
Phrynosoma goodei STEJNEGER 1893
Platyceps tessellata (WERNER 1909)
Pseudechis rossignolii (HOSER 2000)
Rhacodactylus trachycephalus BOULENGER 1878
Rodriguesophis chui RODRIGUES 1993
Rodriguesophis iglesiasi (GOMES 1915)
Rodriguesophis scriptorcibatus RODRIGUES 1993
Sceloporus becki VAN DENBURGH 1905
Sceloporus bimaculosus PHELAN & BRATTSTROM 1955
Sceloporus cowlesi LOWE & NORRIS 1956
Sibon nebulatus (LINNAEUS 1758)
Sphaerodactylus continentalis WERNER 1896
Sphenomorphus buettikoferi (LIDTH DE JEUDE 1905)
Sphenomorphus derooyae (DE JONG 1927)
Uma rufopunctata COPE 1895
Xenosaurus agrenon (KING & THOMPSON 1968)
Xenosaurus rackhami (STUART 1941)

1 Aug 2012

9,670 species (up from 9,596, i.e. plus 74, including resurrections etc.).
30,110 literature references (+410), including 371 published in 2012.

A record number of 95 new species have been described in 2012 (so far).

This includes also 24 new skinks described by Hedges and Conn 2012 who also establish a series of new genera in

Hedges, S.B. & Conn, C.E. 2012
A new skink fauna from Caribbean islands (Squamata, Mabuyidae, Mabuyinae).
Zootaxa 3288: 1–244

as well as 8 new Hemidactylus described in

Carranza, S. & Arnold, E. Nicholas 2012
A review of the geckos of the genus Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from
Oman based on morphology, mitochondrial and nuclear data, with descriptions of
eight new species.

Zootaxa 3378: 1–95

Another notable monograph included is the revision of Lerista by Richard Wells who split up the genus into numerous genera which we only included as synonyms so far, given the lack of a rigorous phylogenetic analysis. Just search the database for Lerista to see some details.

Just after our deadline for this release we received the descriptions of the following species which will only be included in our next release, due in October:

Hemidactylus albituberculatus TRAPÉ in TRAPÉ, CHIRIO & TRAPÉ 2012: 36
Hemidactylus albivertebralis TRAPÉ & BÖHME 2012 in TRAPÉ, CHIRIO & TRAPÉ 2012: 39
Hemidactylus kundaensis CHIRIO & TRAPÉ in TRAPÉ, CHIRIO & TRAPÉ 2012: 41
Tarentola pastoria TRAPÉ, BALDÉ & INEICH in TRAPÉ, CHIRIO & TRAPÉ 2012: 43
Leptosiaphos dungeri TRAPÉ in TRAPÉ, CHIRIO & TRAPÉ 2012: 45
Cophoscincopus senegalensis TRAPÉ, MEDIANNIKOV & TRAPÉ in TRAPÉ, CHIRIO & TRAPÉ 2012: 47

all of which are described in a new book about Western African reptiles (except snakes) by Jean-Francois Trapé and colleagues:

Trapé, J.F.; Chirio, L. & Trapé, S. 2012
Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara.
IRD Orstom, 503 pp.

When these species are included we have already reached 101 new species in 2012, and we are only 7 month into the year!

In order to learn more about the inner workings of the Reptile Database and other online resources in herpetology (and ichthyology) please visit us at the World Congress of Herpetology in Vancouver, Canada. We are organizing a special symposium on the subject on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2-5 pm.


24 April 2012

9,596 species (up from 9,547, i.e. plus 49, including resurrections etc.).
29,700 literature references (+401), including 177 published in 2012.
5,892 photos, representing 2,278 species (plus 161 species)

34 new species have been described in 2012 (so far).

More photos: we have added 672 new photos since the last release, most of which are from just 4 photographers, including several hundred photos of types and other specimens from the ZSM. On top of the 5,892 photos in the database we link to 2,750 photos in Flickr, 2,517 in CalPhotos, and 2,078 on other sites (including Reptarium and Arkive). As a result, you have access to photos of 3,312 species.

More links to literature sources. In the past 3 months, we have almost doubled the number of links from the literature references in each species entry to web sources such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library. At this point, almost 13,000 references (or 43% of all references) have links. Unfortunately, many of them require subscriptions or other access permissions. Let us know if you know of open access papers or even personal websites that we can link to. Check out Anolis carolinensis for an example.

Mailing list. More than 100 email addresses of our mailing list bounce back (and will thus be deleted). Please let us know if your email address changes or if you do not get email updates any more. Thanks!

28 Jan 2012

9,547 species (up from 9,487).
29,259 literature references (up from 29,023), including 775 published in 2011.
5,211 photos, representing 2,117 species.

126 new species have been described in 2011 (so far).

New feature: link to literature sources. While still under development, we have started to add links from the bibliographies in each species entry to publishers, journal websites, the Biodiversity Heritage Library and others. At this point, about 25% of all references have links. Check out an Platysternon megacephalum for an example.

11 Nov 2011

The current release has 25 new species, totaling now 9,487 species (up from 9,439). We are now at 84 species that have been described in 2011.

Note that there is a difference between the number of “new species” and the number of “species added”, mostly a result of subspecies that have been elevated to full species status (a few species sunk into synonymy too).

References: The database now contains 29,023 literature references (up from 28,633), including 611 published this year (up from 307). To put this into perspective: the Biology of the Reptilia Volume 22 is the “most extensive” reptile bibliography in book form with ~22,600 references (1400 pages!):

TIP OF THE MONTH (November): genus information

If you need to find information about particular genera, find the type species of this genus in the database. It often has information such as a diagnosis for the whole genus. We have started to add such information only recently and constantly add new information. Take a look at the genus Haitiophis to see an example.

We will add similar information for higher taxa such as families. In the long you will be able to find such parent-child relationships so that you can extract information about higher taxa by looking at their type species, type genera etc.

17 Sep 2011

We have finally set up links to iNaturalist.org and the IUCN Redlist pages. Please take a look at this example:

At iNaturalist.org, you can report your own observations, upload photos, and find maps of observations. Similarly, at the IUCN site you can find detailed distribution maps for many species and more detailed information about conservation issues.

The iNaturalist website can also be found by following the “Global Reptile Bioblitz” link at the left of the page.

If you haven’t seen it, you will notice that we have also improved our mapping tool, so you can see either rough range maps (with colored countries or states) or localities. The mapping tool is not perfect yet, we are working on further improvements.

The current release has also a number of new species, totaling now 9,439 species and 28,633 literature references, including 307 published this year.

Note that we have also reorganized our photo collection, now close to 5,000 photos which represent 2,019 species! We have also added an updated list of photographers to our “acknowledgements” page (see list near the middle of that page). Almost 250 people have contributed photos to our database by now! Thanks to all of you!

That said, we do have links to photos on the web of more than 4,300 species now, but unfortunately many links break sooner or later, so it would be great if we had those photos on our own server. That said, there are more than 7,000 species to go, so keep sending in photos, please!

One last word: The Center for North American Herpetology, “the most frequently accessed academic herpetological web site on the internet worldwide” (in their own words) just reported its 1,000,000th visitor since January 1998.

In the past year, since we have moved from JCVI to reptarium.cz we have had 269,053 visits from 152,455 unique visitors, totaling 1,704,784 page views. Just to put things into perspective.

1 Aug 2011

New release features a total of 9,413 species and 2,929 subspecies. 55 species have been described in 2011 (+36 since May release). 28,559 references in database (+339). New download version available.

1 May 2011

Total of 9,362 species (+ 42 since last update, including subspecies elevated to full species), 126 described in 2010 (+10), 19 from 2011 (+13). More than 28,200 references in database (+200).

3 March 2011

Total of 9,320 species, 116 described in 2010, 6 from 2011. More than 28,000 references in database.

6 Dec 2010

Today's new release features 9,285 species of which 102 have been described this year. We have also updated our photo library that contains more than 5,000 photos of almost 2,000 species now. The overview of higher taxa has been updated: links to families provide lists of species now; also, the overview of higher taxa now contains links to Wikipedia entries of these families.

5 Nov 2010

A new release of the database is available, featuring 9,247 species of which 79 have beendescribed this year. The resulting list of species can now be browsed by opening a species entry and clicking through the found set using a navigation list on the left. Also, photos can now be browsed within each species.

5 Sep 2010

With the help of Jirí Hošek from Reptarium.cz we have now installed a new search engine that you can access here. The new site also features an update with 9,205 species of which 50 have been described this year. We are now in the process of updating the family pages and move back the photos. We hope to complete these tasks by early October. A new download version should become available by that time as well.

24 July 2010

The J Craig Venter Institute no longer hosts the Reptile Database. The database is currently offline. We are working on a move to another site. If no alternative site will be found with a few weeks we will post a downloadable flat file by mid-August.

January 2010

New Release.

October 2009

We have just released the Oct 2009 version of the TIGR Reptile Database, listing 9084 species (up from 8,863 from June 2008), including 64 species described so far in 2009.

Please let us know if you note any omissions or errors. We are now in the process of updating the family pages as well. There are many changes which have been published but not integrated into the higher taxa.

The CD-ROM or download version has been released in July 2009 already, including a bibliography of >26,000 references that now shows which papers are available as pdfs.

18 June 2008

(Note that a new database version was released in January 2009 without a release note on this page).

Last week we have released the June 2008 version of the TIGR Reptile Database, listing 8,863 species. We have also released a new, slightly improved search engine, that allows users to search for exact matches, as many of you have requested. The improved search engine is still in beta-testing and thus not yet available from the main website but have a look at http://www.jcvi.org/reptiles/search.php (note that exact matches only make sense for genera and species names, not for most other fields as they usually contain a lot of information that is almost impossible to match exactly).

We are currently pondering the possibility whether we should move all our web pages on reptile families (http://www.reptile-database.org/db-info/taxa.html) to Wikipedia and then link back from Wikipedia to the actual database at TIGR (i.e. the same way we link from the family pages to list all species of each genus, see http://www.tigr.org/reptiles/families/Agamidae.html for an example). If you are in the Wikipedia community we would appreciate if you could help us with that. Let us know!

The CD-ROM or download version will follow shortly.

News - 11 Feb 2008

After a longer hiatus we just updated our database again with a record of 8,728 species.

Based on current counts, 2007 was one of the most productive years in reptile taxonomy with at least 129 new species described, only second to the most productive. We are sure that we haven't got all new species though and thus may even reach or exceed the historical peak of 1854 (144 new species). There were only 2 other years in history during which more than 100 species were described as new: 1758 (118 species) and 1863 (114). Take a look and search the database for, say, "2007".

The peak in 1758 was obviously due to Linné's groundbreaking Systema Naturae (note the 250th anniversary this year!) while 1854 was the year when Duméril & Bibron published volumes 7-9 of their Érpétologie Générale in which they described 89 new species.

Note that the herpetological part of Linné's Systema Naturae is available for free on our website together with a number of other historical papers.

What's next?

We will also finish a DVD version of Duméril & Bibron's complete oeuvre within the next couple of months.

The CD version of the database has now more than 24,000 references of which about 16,000 are online.

News - May 2007

We are almost done with our transition to the new site. The search engine should work already although it still has a few quirks (such as missing carriage returns and diacritic characters). These will be fixed shortly. We also have to apologize for quite a few remaining broken links - they will be fixed within the next few weeks too. Please get onto our mailing list for updates: click here to send an empty e-mail to sign up. We keep your e-mail address private - no junk mail!

We are sorry that EMBL no longer supports the "EMBL" Reptile Database, so we had to remove their name from the title as well. EMBL thinks that reptiles have nothing to do with molecular biology which is, of course, only partly true as reptile taxonomy is more and more dominated by DNA sequence analysis. We do thank EMBL for more than 12 years of continuous hosting though. Please make sure you change links to the old EMBL address to the new one: http://www.reptile-database.org.

The database has therefore been renamed "The TIGR Reptile Database", based on our new host, The Institute of Genomic Research, now the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).

Changes between June 2005 and October 2006

The next major update will be released in March 2013

Note: This database is updated continuously, but new releases become publicly available only every 2 months now. However, we attempt to publish new releases in monthly increments starting in 2011.

This page is maintained by Peter Uetz

Created: 2 July 1997 / Last updated: as indicated on top