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ORDER 2

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Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 138 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ORDER 2. SERPENTES.—CrotalUS (5 species); Boa (Io sp.); Coluber (96 sp.); Anguis (15 Sp.); Amphisbaena (2 sp.); Caecilia (2 sp.). None of the naturalists who under the direction or influence of Linnaeus visited foreign countries possessed any special knowledge of or predilection for the study of reptiles; all, however, contributed to our acquaintance with tropical forms, or transmitted well-preserved specimens to the collections at home, so that Gmelin, in the 13th edition of the Systema Naturae, was able to enumerate three hundred and seventy-one species. The man who, with the advantage of the Linnaean method, first treated of reptiles monographically, was Laurenti. In a small book2 he proposed a new division of these Laurent,. animals, of which some ideas and terms have survived into our times, characterizing the orders, genera and species in a much more precise manner than Linnaeus, giving, for his time, excellent descriptions and figures of the species of his native country. Laurenti might have become for herpetology what Artedi was for ichthyology, but his resources were extremely limited. The circumstance that Chelonians are entirely omitted from his. Synopsis seems due rather to the main object with which he engaged in the study of herpetology, viz. that of examining and distinguishing reptiles reputed to be poisonous, and to want of material, than to his conviction that tortoises should be relegated to another class. He divides the class into three orders: I: SALIENTIA, with the genera Pipa, Bufo, Rana, Hyla, and one species of " Proteus," viz. the larva of Pseudis paredoxa. 2. GRADIENTIA, the three first genera of which are Tailed Batrachians, viz. two species of Proteus (one being the P. anguinus), Triton and Salamandra; followed by true Saurians—Caudiverbera, Gecko, Chamaeleo, Iguana, Basiliscus, Draco, Cordylus, Crocodilus, Scincus, Stellio, Seps. 3. SERPENTIA, among which he continues to keep Amphisbaena, Caecilia and Anguis, but the large Linnaean genus Coluber is divided into twelve, chiefly from the scutellation of the head and form of the body. _ The work concludes with an account of the experiments made by Laurenti to prove the poisonous or innocuous nature of those reptiles of which he could obtain living specimens. The next general work on reptiles is by Lacepede. It appeared in the years 1788 and 1790 under the title Histoire naturelle des quadrupedes ovipares et des ser pens (Paris, Lacepede. 2 vols. 4to). Although as regards treatment of details and amount of information this work far surpasses the modest attempt of Laurenti, it shows no advance towards a more natural division and arrangement of the genera. The author depends entirely on conspicuous external characters, and classifies the reptiles into (1) oviparous quadrupeds with a tail, (2) oviparous quadrupeds without a tail, (3) oviparous I In associating tortoises with toads, Ray could not disengage himself from the general popular view as to the nature of these animals, which found expression in the German Schildkrble (" Shield-toad "). 2 Specimen medicum exhibens Synopsin Reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidote Reptilium Austriacorum (Vienna, 1768, 8vo, pp. 214, with 5 plates). bipeds (Chirotes and Pseudo pus), (4) serpents,—an arrangement in which the old confusion of Batrachians and reptiles and the imperfect definition of lizards and snakes are continued, and which it is worthy of remark we find also adopted in Cuvier's Tableau elementaire de l'histoire naturelle des animaux (1798), and nearly so by Latreille in his Histoire naturelle des reptiles (Paris, 18or, 4 vols. 12 mo). Lacepede's monograph, however, remained for many years deservedly the standard work on reptiles. The numerous plates with which the work is illustrated, are, for the time, well drawn, and the majority readily recognizable. 3. The Period of Elimination of Batrachians as one of the Reptilian Orders.—A new period for herpetology commences Bronx- with Alex. Brongniart,' who in 1799 first recognized mart. the characters by which Batrachians differ from the other reptiles, and by which they form a natural passage to the class of fishes. Caecilia (as also Langaha and Acrochordus) is left by Brongniart with hesitation in the order of snakes, but newts and salamanders henceforth are no more classed with lizards. He leaves the Batrachians, however, in the class of reptiles, as the fourth order. The first order comprises the Chelonians, the second the Saurians (including crocodiles and lizards), the third the Ophidians—terms which have been adopted by all succeeding naturalists. Here, however, Brongniart's merit on the classification of reptiles ends, the definition and disposition of the genera remaining much the same as in the works of his predecessors. The activity in France in the field of natural science was at this period, in spite of the political disturbances, so great that Daualn. only a few years after Lacepede's work another, almost identical in scope and of the same extent, appeared, viz. the Histoire naturelle generale et particuliere des reptiles of F. M. Daudin (Paris, 1802-3, 8 vols. 8vo). Written and illustrated with less care than that by Lacepede, it is of greater importance to the herpetologists of the present day, as it contains a considerable number of generic and specific forms described for the first time. Indeed, at the end of the work, the author states that he has examined more than eleven hundred specimens, belonging to five hundred and seventeen species, all of which he has described from nature. The system adopted is that of Brongniart, the genera are well defined, but ill arranged; it is, however, noteworthy that Caecilia takes now its place at the end of the Ophidians, and nearest to the succeeding order of Batrachians. The next step in the development of the herpetological system was the natural arrangement of the genera. This involved a stupendous amount of labour. Although many isolated contributions were made by various workers, this task could be successfully undertaken and completed in the Paris Museum only, in which, besides Seba's and Lacepede's collections, many other herpetological treasures from other museums had been deposited by the victorious generals of the empire, and to which, through Cuvier's reputation, objects from every part of the world were attracted in a voluntary manner. The men who devoted themselves to this task were A. M. C. Dumeril, Dum6r11, Oppel and Cuvier himself. Oppel was a German who, Oppel during his visit to Paris (1807-1808), attended the aad Ca :vier. lectures of Dumeril and Cuvier, and at the same time studied the materials to which access was given to him by the latter in the most liberal manner. Dumeril 2 maintains that Oppel's ideas and information were entirely derived from his lectures, and that Oppel himself avows this to be the case. The passage,3 however, to which he refers is somewhat ambiguous, i Bull. Acad. Sci. (1800), Nos. 35, 36. 2 Erpet. gener., i. p. 259. 3 " Ware es nicht die Ermunterung . . . dieser Freunde gewesen, so wiirde ich iiberzeugt von den Mangeln, denen eine solche Arbeit bei alley moglichen Vorsicht doch unterworfen ist, es nie gewagt haben, meine Eintheilung bekannt zu machen, obwohl selbe Herr Dumeril in seinen Lectionen vom Jahre 1809 schon vorgetragen, and die Thiere im Cabinet darnach bezeichnet hat " (preface, p. viii). A few lines further on he emphatically declares that the classification is based upon his own researches.and it is certain that there is the greatest possible difference between the arrangement published by Dumeril in 18o6 (Zoologie Analytique, Paris, 8vo) and that proposed by Oppel in his Ordnungen, Familien, and Gattungen der Reptilien (Munich, 1811. 4to). There is no doubt that Oppel profited largely by the teaching of Dumeril; but, on the other hand, there is sufficient internal evidence in the works of both authors, not only that Oppel worked independently, but also that Dumeril and Cuvier owed much to their younger fellow-labourer, as Cuvier himself indeed acknowledges more than once. Oppel's classification may be shortly indicated thus:
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